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Upcoming Senior Internships Excite Students but Worry Some Teachers

Stevie Klein ’12
Web Features Editor 

From September until December, Joyce Eldh went town to town, searching for 200 new internship positions, going to company sites, brochures and emailing any that seemed applicable for the 2010 seniors. She was more than successful.

This year, over 300 seniors are participating in an internship program that begins on May 17, after the AP exams, and runs through June 11.

Obviously the internship program has many great features, but some are upset because of the educational opportunities and learning that will be missed.

Lisabeth Comm, 6-12 English department coordinator, describes the process as “one good competing with another good.”

Three years ago, Principal John Dodig noticed that numerous schools in the area had an internship program, and he wanted to explore this idea. He went to the collaborative team who discussed the idea and sent out a task force to talk to other schools participating in the program.

When it started, they only placed 48 kids, but that number has grown.

“It must have exploded because of word of mouth. Maybe the juniors saw how miserable the seniors were that were left behind. Those left behind said they were sorry they didn’t do it,” said Eldh.

This has proven true for a lot of seniors, who also want to do the internships because they don’t want to stay in school with no friends.

“Everyone is doing [an internship] so there is no point in being the only senior left,” said Nick Cion ’10 who is going to work with the principal of Long Lots School for his internship.

Students said they are also excited by the idea of getting into the real world and exploring their passions.

“I want to get experience in what I want to do and make sure I like it,” said Alex Werner ‘10 who is going to work in an architectural firm.

Guidance counselor Ed Huydic agrees.

“Students are noticing it’s a golden opportunity to get out into business, industry and other job related situations. The students have recognized it’s great being out in the real world in a sheltered way versus the classroom,” said Huydic.

A prime example is Katya Strage ’10 who is working at Norwalk hospital because she “wants to work in a hospital eventually.”

However, as beneficial as the internships are, many teachers are upset by the fact that many students will not be finishing out the year, leaving many classes nearly empty.

For example, Carrie Udall will only have six kids left in her Astronomy class.

“I have planned to get most of what I want done before that, I knew about it ahead of time so I planned ahead,” Udall said.

But she, like many others, is upset when students do internships only to get out of school, and not to get a feel at doing something that they love.

“I don’t mind if they are doing something important and productive to them, but if they don’t care and are just doing it to get out of school I mind,” said Udall.

Comm sees both the good and bad of the internship program, and thinks it will benefit some, while for others it would benefit them more to stay in school.

“On one hand it is good for seniors who are bored with school and ready to go out, but it is a shame for the kids who are excited by intellectual discussion because they will be missing a month of great discussion and books. Is what they’re doing worth missing that? They’ll have 35 years to what they want to do later in their life,” said Comm.

She was especially affected after watching the AP Literature class have a wonderful discussion, and was upset that three quarters of them would be gone and missing that.

Besides the academics, Adele Valovich, orchestra teacher, notes the social aspects that will be missed because of the senior internships as well.

“They will be missing out on being together for that last month. They have to come back for the end–of–year activities, they aren’t going to be together for much longer,” she said

Valovich will lose half of her orchestra days before a big concert.

“For two weeks we have APs so I won’t see them and then they leave for the internships and we won’t have time to regroup and practice before the concert,” she said, who didn’t have time to prepare for the loss of so many seniors before such an important event.

“I’m not against the premise of [the internships] but it must be delivered in a way that doesn’t affect other’s curriculum,” said Valovich.

She thinks that there can be another way to combine staying in school and getting experience in what you love, such as a seminar that includes field trips and guest speakers that is half a day and in a field you enjoy.

The amount of seniors going is a representation of the fact that the application process is not a difficult one.

Eldh said that there were few applications that were rejected because they didn’t meet the requirements.

“Pretty much everyone is doing well enough in their classes that they qualify,” said Eldh.

In January the seniors get a letter with an application to put down their top ten internship choices. The list this year was over 40 pages long.

Then Eldh talks to guidance counselors and teachers and decides which kids are most qualified for which internships.

“Most get one of their top five choices, but is hard when 20 kids want the same one,” said Eldh.

There were only two kids who decided not to participate in the program because they didn’t get an internship they were happy with.

Whether or not the teachers are thrilled about it, three quarters of the senior grade will be leaving school on May 15, going out into the real world and interning at anywhere from the Beardsley Zoo, a corporate office, or the Maritime Aquarium.


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