Alternatives to final months of high school: work or internships

Courtesy of Deposit Photos

Courtesy of Deposit Photos

At the end of the school year, many Pelham Memorial High School seniors are trying to decide what kind of summer job they should get, and if they should possibly do an internship program before college.

Seniors at other schools across Westchester County are already participating in those sorts of things because their school year ends sometime in early May. At PMHS, however, classes finish towards the end of June. This leaves seniors who are gearing up for their freshman year at college/university to squeeze in productive internships or summer jobs in the short weeks between graduation from high school and matriculation into college.

One PMHS teacher who attended the Ursuline School in New Rochelle remembered how “school” concluded after AP exams. This and other high schools make up for the mandated school days by having their students participate in alternative options. Scarsdale High School, for example, provides a senior options program. Students are able to culminate the experiences of their high school careers in a program that “allows students to extend the skills and knowledge that they have developed in school by applying them in areas of personal interest at a business/workplace. To ensure that this experience will be rigorous and worthwhile, seniors work closely with faculty members in developing their options.” This program is mandatory for all seniors and is graded on a pass-fail basis. Some seniors do community service, internships or personal passion projects. It is a melding of interests but in the school/work environment that not only prepares them for university, but future summers in between college years, giving them an idea of independence.

As a senior myself, I would welcome this type of program at PMHS. Currently, I am in the midst of finalizing plans for this summer, which, for me, is a short eight-and-a-half weeks between graduation on June 24 and my move-in day at the University of Richmond on August. Instead of being able to explore my interests in a work-like environment through an internship program, I and my peers have to make bets and choose something that we may or may not enjoy.

“Senioritis” claims many high school seniors by the last quarter of the school year, especially after AP exams have concluded. A lot of the time, teachers are not sure how to balance flexibility with their students with the standards they need to uphold as educators. An internship opportunity at PMHS would eliminate this paradox and instead would offer a unique spin on the final quarter of the year. There are still senior activities that take place, but students are not going to classes every day. Instead they would spend the remainder of the school year involved in something that genuinely interests them in a hands-on way. It is learning in a newfangled manner that is not often experienced in high school.

I hope that PMHS will see the merit in such a program. It would keep students engaged by sprucing things up at the end of the year instead of forcing seniors to slug through more school days. The current way benefits neither us nor the teachers who are trying their best to introduce ways to keep us interested.