arrow-right facebook file-download instagram sort-down twitter youtube

Senior Independent Projects

Every spring, seniors at Abington Friends School leave campus for three weeks to work, study and learn under the guidance of mentors. SIP provides a wonderful opportunity for students to define and develop their own learning experiences. Students use SIP to deepen experiences they have already had; to learn skills they have always wanted to learn or develop skills they already have; to try out a career path; to engage in further academic study; or to travel and work in other cities and countries.

Some students use SIP to try out a career path (marketing, advertising, medicine, landscaping, recording engineer, photographer); some students use SIP to learn a skill they’ve always wanted to learn (cooking, wood turning, photography;) others use SIP to develop a skill they already have (sculpture; reading/research an academic area; tech theater; musical composition) still others use SIP to deepen experiences they have already had (doing community service; writing poetry; working with a national advocacy group. )

Seniors and parents who have questions about SIP should contact the SIP Coordinator, Toni Vahlsing. Toni is also available for “drop in” help in the library. 


About SIP

SIP Requirements

SIP requires:

Sufficient seriousness, depth, and educational value;
A challenge to the student in a clearly defined way;
Work with a mentor who will direct and evaluate the project;
Thirty to forty hours per week to be spent at a specific site or in specific work;
A final report to be presented to the community.

To participate in SIP, a student needs to do the following:

  • Submit a formal application to the SIP Committee that shows a thoughtful plan with specific goals and a clear indication of a student’s readiness for the project;
  • Submit a supporting letter from the SIP Mentor that confirms the details of the project;
  • Be a student in good standing as determined by a faculty review of attendance, promptness, academic status and behavioral standards;
  • Complete all school requirements before leaving for projects.

The nature of SIP requires student initiative and responsibility. Being late to school, late to class, accumulating detentions for behavior, letting grades drop, and/or failing to meet other school responsibilities are signs that a student may not be ready for the independence a project demands. It is up to each student to keep regular attendance, maintain his/her academic record, and uphold all community behavioral standards. Seniors who do not develop a SIP Project are expected to be at school 8:00 A.M. to 3:10 P.M. during the SIP project period.

 

The Role of the SIP Mentor

The relationship between mentors and students is at the heart of SIP. The mentor’s role is to guide and instruct the student, supervise his/her tasks, set hours, and evaluate the student’s work. A mentor’s responsibility should include all aspects of the student’s experience from showing a student a professional dress code for the office to exploring with the student the challenges of the work itself.

The best projects for students are the most “hands on” as possible. Whatever the mentor can do to allow students to be part of the action is welcome: attending meetings, greeting clients, interacting with colleagues, observing operations, and learning the day-to-day routine of the mentor’s profession. At the end of three weeks, seniors should have a good sense of the specific work done by the mentor and a rich experience of the world of work.

A mentor who agrees to work with a student should send a letter/email confirming the details of the project:

  • days and hours the student will work
  • specific tasks the student will perform
  • what the student will learn about the work or company
  • the method of evaluation of the student’s work
  • any other relevant details that would help the SIP Committee understand the project

Letters should be sent to
Toni Vahlsing
Abington Friends School
575 Washington Lane
Jenkintown PA 19046

Emails should be sent to tvahlsing@abingtonfriends.net

Typical SIP Timeline

Mid-December:  Coordinator presents SIP information to senior class; seniors begin process of researching sites and planning projects

Early January: Seniors must submit Preliminary Application to SIP Committee

Late January:  Students must submit Progress Report to advisors

Mid-February: Coordinator meets with seniors in class meeting to review Final Application and Mentor’s Confirmation Letter and meets with seniors in class meeting to answer final questions about projects; seniors are encouraged to submit draft of Final Application to SIP Committee member for review

Early March:  Coordinator meets with seniors for final review

Early March:  SIP Final Application and Mentor’s Confirmation Letter must be submitted for SIP Committee review

Mid-March:  SIP Committee meets to review all Final SIP Applications

Mid-March:  Seniors notified of acceptance of applications; seniors without projects will be assigned to work on campus

Mid-May:  Seniors leave campus for SIP

Early June:  Seniors return to campus

Seniors are expected to present their Senior Independent Projects to the community at SIP night, typically the week after students return to campus.

SIP FAQs

What makes a good SIP Project?

Students are encouraged to find projects in which they will be learning each day and each week. In our experience with SIP, we have learned much about what projects do and don’t work. We will do what we can to help you shape your project.

A good project is one in which a student can’t wait to get to the site, where they are learning each day, where the works is “hands on,” and where they are challenged intellectually and emotionally.

Conversely, projects which sound great in theory aren’t always practical; for instance, students who want to be psychologists find it difficult to work out a project because of privacy issues for clients; some projects, e.g. working at a doctor’s or dentist’s office, involve too much watching and not enough doing.

Some students use SIP to try out a career path (marketing, advertising, medicine, landscaping, recording engineer, photographer); some students use SIP to learn a skill they’ve always wanted to learn (cooking, wood turning, photography;) others use SIP to develop a skill they already have (sculpture; reading/research an academic area; tech theater; musical composition) still others use SIP to deepen experiences they have already had (doing community service; writing poetry; working with a national advocacy group. )

Are there sites or jobs that do not qualify for SIP?

SIP is limited to specific experiences in which an adult mentor works with you. This does not necessarily mean that the adult mentor is right there by your side as you work. It does mean that the mentor is in frequent contact, is teaching you, and is evaluating your work.

Other limits on SIP:

The adult mentor may not be an AFS Faculty member or a member of your family or a close family friend. The objective of SIP is to allow students to develop a skills through work with a knowledgeable adult to challenge you to learn beyond the classroom. Family members may be the initial contact; they can help you arrange work with someone outside the family.

With a few rare exceptions, SIP projects must be completed off campus.

SIP must occur during the dates set aside for it. Trips or programs that fall outside of those dates do not qualify for SIP. Students who play a spring sport and would like to travel after the end of the season can do so by combining a week of study and preparation with travel.

Some work does not qualify because it falls outside the educational mission of the school or outside defined “educational value” or lacks structure:

  • getting an early start on a summer job;
  • working in a retail store;
  • preparing for a test or certification: (paramedic, stockbroker’s, driving, scuba diving, etc.;
  • learning a sport;
  • working in groups;
  • hiking or camping.

May students work with other students?

Generally, SIP is something students do on their own. One of the goals of SIP is to challenge students to move out of their own “comfort zone” and working with a friend undercuts the challenge. Students interested in traveling to another city or another country, for safety and for financial reasons,  may live with another senior as long as they are each doing a different project.

What happens if a Project falls through?

Sometimes, despite all  efforts, a project falls through. If the problem is beyond a student’s control, the student will be given time to develop another project. If the project falls through because a student did not meet his or her obligations – meeting a deadline, following through on a task, meeting the mentor- he or she will not be able to do SIP.

Senior Independent Project Resources