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When 12 Pelham Memorial High School graduates from the class of 2012 begin new adventures this fall, they will have the added benefit of what they learned from WISE, which is short for the Wise Individualized Senior Experiences program.
WISE is a pilot program at the high school geared to helping seniors connect what they are learning in school to the real world, to pursue a passion or explore possible interests, and develop new skills. The seniors participated in short term internships or projects under the direction of a school-based mentor and an in-field mentor.
One of the requirements was an end of the year presentation in which students talked about their experiences, what they learned and what they were able to take away from their experiences. Here are highlights from three of the senior presentations.
Senior Anne Dwyer, who wants to pursue graphic design, was able to explore several different opportunities that involved advertising in television work, marketing in a major corporation and also a mock assignment for print ads for an upcoming media campaign in NYC. The experiences, she said, took her out of her comfort zone and exposed her to different aspects of advertising that broadened her appreciation of it.
In her final reflection, she said, “I am glad that I tried new things, glad I experienced new environments. This broke my own stereotypes and biases and I learned a lot about myself.” Her mentor was English teacher Nicole Wasnetsky.
Peggy Hoare who will be studying wild life ecology at the University of Maine this fall chose the Greenburgh Nature Center for her training. There she was able to care for animals ranging from from turtles and snakes to fish and turkeys. She also used the animals as an opportunity to teach children about their habitats. Some very special experiences with children and several of the animals reinforced her decision to pursue this area of study and career goals. But her internship had some bumps in getting off the ground and these experiences were also part of the learning curb, she added. Her high school mentor was Irene Gruber.
Omar Gouda may have won numerous top prizes in Forensics (Speech) in state and national competitions and had lead roles in several plays at high school, but it was his experience in eighth grade at another middle school before coming to Pelham that made him choose working with the Middle School Theatre students for his internship.
This confident senior described the embarrassment of skipping a line that was pivotal to the story in his 8th grade play, Wagon Wheels, and other embarrassing moments that made him believe “he wasn’t god enough to try theatre in high school.” Learning to work with the middle school students became another adventure. His mentor was Maria Abeshouse, choral teacher at the middle and high schools.
The WISE Task Force is creating a database of the names and contact information of community members who have expertise in various areas and are interested in either being a resource for students or would consider taking on a WISE Senior as an intern next spring. Community members who are interested in being added to this database can send their contact information to high school teacher and WISE advisor Will Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 12 seniors in the WISE program were: Roberta Barnett, Katty Conforti, Kyra DeTone, Ann Dwyer, Peggy Hoare, Anya LaRoche, Sebastian Martinez, Josh Morgan, Max Romanello, P.J. Schepis, Jiani Xu and Omar Gouda.