Students Pursue Their Passions During Senior Options

SeniorOptions1One of the highlights of senior year at Scarsdale High School is the Senior Options program which allows graduating seniors to leave the classroom and work and pursue an independent project for the final six weeks of the school year.

The Senior Options program, run by Spanish teacher Jose Lamela, allows students the chance to spend their time pursuing passions or exploring new fields and is a welcome change of scene from the academic program.

Students can either participate in an unpaid internship or devote their time to an independent project. While most students go with the former, there is always a lot of interesting variety in how kids choose to spend their senior options time. A pretty common internship is working in the classroom of a favorite teacher from elementary or middle school and many seniors are now back at the schools they attended for first grade.

However, not all internships are so close to home, though. The only requirements are that students must work for a documented total of both 168 hours and 28 days. Some kids actually travel, domestically and internationally, for one of a kind experiences that they otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to do. Here is a sampling of what three notable students are doing this year:

GavelSydney Albert is working in the office of Judge Cacace at the Westchester County Courthouse. Sydney hopes to go into law in the future, which is why she wanted to work in the field. She chose to work with a judge, more specifically, since she wanted to “get an objective, unbiased view on each case.” While she may pursue a career in Judge Cacace’s field, criminal law, she says “it is definitely one of the most interesting and exciting branches of law.”

In the past few weeks, Sydney has been able to watch many hearings and trials, including a three-week murder trial. She sees arraignments, conferences in judge’s chambers, bail hearings, and SORA (Sex Offender Registration Act) hearings. In addition, she also helps Judge Cacace review hundreds of pistol permits each week.

Sydney has learned a lot from working with Judge Cacace. Going into it, she hoped to learn more about different branches and aspects of law. While criminal law may not be her strongest suit, this internship gave her the chance to try it out and learn more about what might interest her. The internship has really given her a lot, she says, “they really try to give me the best, most educational experience possible.”

SeniorOptions5Harry Liu had quite a different Senior Options experience interning with the Stewardship program of Friends of Acadia, an organization based at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. Harry traveled to Maine and lived almost completely on his own, working with this non-profit organization to help maintain and protect the national park. He worked with the trail crew to help restore an old trail, and make sure it would last for many years to come.

Harry lived in government housing provided by the park. While he did have a roommate who he met when he arrived, he was living mainly independently. He had to take care of himself, drive himself everywhere, prepare his own food, and take care of all other personal responsibilities. When he wasn’t working, Harry’s supervisor gave him a lot of free time to explore the park. As an avid hiker, this was definitely a highlight for him. He hiked over 60 miles in just the first two weeks.

Harry had one main goal for his Senior Options; to have fun. He picked Friends of Acadia because he saw that too often, kids participated in things that they didn’t end up enjoying. Overall, it seems he succeeded. He says, “I’ve enjoyed every hike, almost every work day, and I’ve experienced so many new things.”

SeniorOptions8Morgan Kim is spending her Senior Options interning at One River School of Art + Design in Hartsdale. Morgan’s interest in One River is twofold; she gets to be around art, which is a huge passion of hers, and she is also learning how to run a business. With the art aspect, Morgan is in her comfort zone. She loves fine art courses, and gets to experience them in a new way by helping to run classes. On the business side, she is experiencing something that she hasn’t been exposed to before. It’s a window into the world of business.

On a typical day, Morgan is involved with both aspects. She is a Teaching Assistant at art classes for kids and organized One River’s first student show. From this, Morgan says she has learned a lot of patience. While she admits that sometimes impatience is a negative quality of her personality, working with children with art has helped her improve her patience.

Morgan also has administrative duties with One River and helps with advertising and marketing. Since One River at Hartsdale only opened in March of 2018, they are a relatively new business. Morgan works a lot on community outreach, and also curates the business’s social media accounts. From this, she’s learned marketing strategies and people skills that she will take from her internship to jobs in the future. Her favorite thing about the internship is that it’s allowed her to create new connections. She says, “One River allowed me to meet so many new people and build relationships, which I love.”

sbafair9Danielle Lemisch is using her free time for more than just an internship- with about 20 other kids, she’s working to get her EMT certification with the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps. A few Scarsdale kids opt to do this each year, since they walk away from it with a real certificate and real skills they can use. Almost all seniors are eligible for the program, the only exceptions are those with late birthdays. For Danielle, who is interested in biology but unsure about medical school, this program was a great opportunity to learn some medical skills and test the waters of her interests while also serving the community.

Throughout the course, trainees attend lesson days and practical skill days. On the lesson days they learn the skills, and learn about the human body. Then, on practical skill days, they have the opportunity to try out what they’ve learned. There are both written and practical exams. Some things they’ve learned include how to deliver babies, how to administer different drugs, splinting fractures, and how to use the equipment on the ambulance.

When asked about the best part of the experience, Danielle highlighted the sense of camaraderie among all of the students participating. Having about 20 Scarsdale kids made things like late night study sessions and practicing scenarios with each other lots of fun. Danielle also said, “While becoming EMT certified requires a lot of time and energy, I really enjoyed doing it because everyone who volunteers at the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps is so amazing and they always want to help and pass on their knowledge and experience.” She hopes to use her certification to be an EMT on campus next year at Lafayette College, and volunteer with the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

SeniorOptionsNinaNina Metviner decided to intern at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic. Nina chose to do this internship because Planned Parenthood’s mission is something she believes in, and she wanted to find out more about it. She also wanted to try something new and different for her senior options. Having worked at a business before, she is learning that working at a non-profit is a very different experience.

Nina helps out around the office with day to day tasks, attends events, and contacts potential donors. She also had an experience working alongside the development team, giving her a look into how much work goes into planning events. She also gets to visit some of the health centers that fall under Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic.

Her favorite experience so far has been when she and a team traveled to Albany to lobby for a new sex education bill. They met with five legislators, four of whom supported the bill. Overall, she says it was a fun day and an interesting experience. Working at Planned Parenthood is really eye-opening to how little sex education some people receive. Nina said, “In Scarsdale, we are fortunate that our Sex-Ed went far beyond those requirements, but it scares me going off to college and thinking that most people did not receive a similar education as I did.”

Did you have an interesting senior options experience? Share it in the comments section below or email us at