Our ability to speak and write, to persuade, to form relationships, and to articulate our thoughts and feelings, is the bedrock of success. Students have very little opportunity to exercise personal expression that is meaningful to them in school – they are too busy writing other people’s essays to be graded based on other people’s rubrics. Speaking, writing, and listening effectively is a cornerstone of Huskie’s Heroes, whether that means during class, or creating opportunities outside of class.
In my experience as a teacher, I have noticed that the one time students have an authentic opportunity for self-expression, it’s their senior year when it’s time to write their “common app” (college admissions essay). For most students, this is a struggle. For one, there is no rubric, so they don’t know how to write it. For another, they are to write about something that was meaningful to them and that demonstrates personal growth through struggle, and they can’t find anything to write about – they’ve spent too much time in safe, predictable, boring classrooms. This is why so many essays have something to do with sports or some other extracurricular activity. The goal of Huskie’s Heroes is to offer so many challenges, which result in a deeper and fuller self-actualization, that when it comes time to write the common app, it will be a breeze.
Most scholarship committees look for similar essays, by the way. Typically they will look at the quality of writing and the significance of experience. In attempting to be proactive with my seniors, and looking for scholarships and working alongside them, I discovered that, for one, nothing too significant happened to them during High School, and second, they wouldn’t know how to write about it if it did. Honestly, helping students with common app and scholarship writing, and watching their faces as they realized how much time they had wasted over the past four years, was one of my biggest reasons for putting this program together.
As a requirement of the program, each trimester students are to choose the most significant project they worked on and write a 650 to 2,000 word reflection. Students must also write a 650 to 2,000 word essay detailing some aspect of their volunteer work, and how they have grown from the experience as a person. Finally, the culminating experience will include either a recorded interview, and/or a presentation to a panel of experts, based on one of those essays.