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Beyond the Four Walls of the Classroom

Senior Experience Course Culminates with Capstone Project and Inaugural “School2Career Showcase”

This school year, Baldwin Union Free School District proudly launched “Senior Experience”—an innovative course that provides Baldwin High School seniors with real-world professional hands-on experience. Students are actively involved in internships and educational excursions in their field of interest, allowing for a deeper exploration of their potential career.

What sets this program apart from traditional internship programs is its integration with the social studies and English Language Arts (ELA) curricula. The unique course satisfies the current New York State Graduation requirements. The curriculum is in line with the district’s focus on developing future-oriented programs, while empowering students to take charge of their education and coursework as “producers.”

“Blending practical experience and academic studies not only deepens students' grasp of the subject matter but equips them to be more knowledgeable, skilled, and engaged contributors to our community,” explained Dr. Shari Camhi, superintendent of schools. Implementing more hands-on opportunities into the curriculum and transforming the traditional internship program into an interdisciplinary course allows students to gain deeper experiences and further their learning. “Senior Experience aligns with the district's initiative, Baldwin 2035, which aims to nurture the necessary skill sets needed in future industry. The goal of the course is to apply the theoretical knowledge in real-world settings. 

In the Senior Experience course, students alternate between in-person classes and internship experience during the school day. The seniors are expected to select internships that offer comprehensive insights into a particular career, encompassing relevant skills and job requirements. They are also tasked with maintaining a journal to document their experiences. This year, some of the internships included L&L Accounting, Debra Design Group, and Mercy Medical Center.

“Students gain a unique, inside view of their career interest,” explained Dr. Gabriella Franza, assistant director for instructional programs. “By engaging with professionals in diverse fields, students gain a broader perspective on career options and develop valuable networks that can aid them in their future endeavors. These internships also often spark a newfound enthusiasm for learning, as students see the direct impact of their education on their potential career paths.”

Additionally, the participating seniors partake in what the district refers to as Learning Through Interest (LTI) exhibitions and must also complete a capstone project—a multifaceted interdisciplinary academic project that requires students to apply the knowledge and skills acquired throughout their academic careers to solve real-world problems or issues, such as a nursing shortage. The capstone project demonstrates how the internship experience connects to their social studies and ELA curricula. Students presented their projects to their families, administrators and professionals from their respective fields at the inaugural “School2Career Showcase,” hosted in the high school’s state-of-the-art Learning Collaboratory. 

Baldwin High School teachers, Mr. Chris Soupios, Mr. Chris Russo and Mr. Joe Chiaravalloti, also play an integral role with implementing the course and showcase event. Mr. Soupios and Mr. Russo teach the ELA and social studies curricula, respectively, while Mr. Chiaravalloti oversees the internship piece.

“Seeing our students present their work in such a professional and confident manner made me very proud,” added Dr. Franza. “I look forward to working with our faculty and staff to continue to expand on these real-world learning opportunities.”

In addition to Senior Experience, students have the opportunity to enroll in Senior Internship, another full-year course that enables students to take an internship. Open to all students, seniors who enroll are often part of the high school’s Academic Academies program. The internship experiences tied to this course were also highlighted at the School2Career Showcase. Families walked away from the event thoroughly impressed by the quality of the coursework and student presentations. 

Forty members of the Class of 2025 have already registered for next school year’s Senior Experience course.

Superintendent Dr. Camhi showed immense pride. “The first year of this course proved to be a huge success, and I am excited to see the ongoing development and expansion of the internship opportunities through our community partnerships.”