Senior projects cancelled by Principal Lofstrand


On Friday morning Jan.15, the seniors of Decatur High School (DHS) and their parents received an email from Principal Rochelle Lofstrand regarding the Senior project. The email stated, “I have decided to use the authority to waive this graduation requirement for the entire class of 2021. Therefore, the senior capstone, which includes the senior project, extended essay and reflective project will not be a graduation requirement for the class of 2021”.  

Some students found the cancellation of senior projects beneficial, but others not so much because they were already in the process of completing the project. During the next week, emails from Assistant principal Jessica Sturm were sent out to seniors asking if they would like to continue with their senior project. 

Sturm, who organized and mentored students during the senior project, brought to Lofstrand’s attention that many seniors were having a difficult time engaging in the senior project. Students were not able to do volunteer work, go out into the community or engage with other people. Due to COVID-19, there were restrictions on activities and ideas the seniors could do for their project, limiting their choices. These limitations caused them to be less engaged in the project.

Lofstrand and Sturm, wrote a proposal for the Senior Project and presented it to Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Kristy Beam , Assistant Superintendent Dr. Maggie Fuhrman, and Superintendent Dr. David Dude. The proposal listed reasons for why it was appropriate to waive the senior project this year. Lofstrand mentioned that one of the things was “completion rates, the percentage of students that have started and are in the process of completing it .” 

Lofstrand stated that the senior project has been a part of the (DHS) for 11 years or more. However, this year she looked at it differently.  She understands that this was challenging and also another challenge within virtual school. She wants students to be able to balance school and their outside life. Since the seniors were having such a difficult time with the project and trying to engage, also the completion rate was low for most students. 

“We took a hard look at whether this was a requirement for this year, that was an enrichment opportunity for our students or was it a burden for our students,’’  Lofstrand said,

”If there was something we could take off their plates then we wanted to be able to do that”.

Lofstrand also says she noticed that some students have started their projects and finished them. “We knew waiving this would not be beneficial to all of our students, but when we looked at the numbers we made the decision to move forward because it would be beneficial to most’’.’’

However, she says she is still encouraging students to continue their project and she and Sturm are still available for support. She also says that if students are really engaged in their senior project she and Sturm are offering students an opportunity to present their senior project to a panel just like on senior awards night. Sturm is setting up the opportunity for them so they can have the full experience in presenting to a panel.