Darlington School: Senior Ventures Program: Fostering Leadership, Innovation & Community Engagement
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Senior Ventures Program: Fostering Leadership, Innovation & Community Engagement

Owen Kinney | February 5, 2019 | 418 views

The class of 2020 gathers to hear about the new Senior Ventures program during a recent class meeting.

Darlington School is delighted to announce an exciting program for our rising seniors. Senior Ventures is a bold plan, built on the belief that our senior class has the vision and the determination to accomplish great things. Our development committee of faculty and staff is seeking an inaugural cohort of 5-10 seniors to lead our student body with their commitment to community leadership.  

The basics of the Senior Ventures program are outlined below:

What is Senior Ventures?

A year-long senior project built on a framework of leadership, innovation, and community engagement. The topic and the project design will be chosen by an individual student or a pair of students, and the journey is guided by Darlington faculty as well as mentors in the community. Most projects will fall into one of the following categories:  Investigation, Performance, Entrepreneurship, and Outreach. Proposals that are interdisciplinary in scope with connections to professionals in the community are strongly encouraged. Each project is expected to have components of experiential learning (shadowing, internship, travel, volunteering, etc), positive citizenship, and technology integration.

Who can participate?

Current juniors are eligible to apply individually or in pairs. There are no specific academic requirements. Candidates will be selected according to proposal quality, feasibility, and commitment. A committee of three adult mentors, preferably two Darlington teachers/staff members and one expert from the community, will be selected for each project by the student(s) and faculty supervisors.

When are the important dates?  

Current juniors may submit 300-word proposal abstracts by Feb. 19. Invitations to draft full proposals with mentor assistance will be sent out to 5-10 students one week later. Project work must begin no later than April of the junior year and end no later than May of the senior year. A significant portion of the project should be completed by November of the senior year for college and scholarship applications. Incremental progress must be documented and shared with mentors on a weekly basis. A TED-style talk or other form of presentation will be given to the school community for each project during the spring of the senior year.

What is the value of participating in Senior Ventures?

For the students:

  • Presents an opportunity for deep experiential learning in a field of their choice

  • Fosters community engagement, networking, and effective communication

  • Encourages practical goal setting and decision-making over the course of a year

  • Demonstrates skill, productivity, and commitment to prospective universities

  • Develops the diligence and autonomy necessary for college success

For the faculty/staff:

  • Creates deeper connections with students and community

  • Builds an environment of collaboration among faculty members and community mentors

  • Encourages professional growth and develops new interest areas

For the greater school community:

  • Brings more rigor and engagement to our senior experience

  • Places more students in genuine leadership roles on and off campus

  • Encourages underclassmen to develop skills in areas of interest

  • Demonstrates fulfilling ways to apply wisdom and service

How does the program work?

Starting in the early spring of 2019, juniors that are accepted into the program will have regular meetings with their committee to steer project development and to work out logistics. A class period will be assigned to participating students at the start of their senior year. This “coworking” period will provide shared time for completion of goals, meetings with faculty/mentors, leadership seminars, and other tasks related to the program. Mentors will emphasize the importance of process over product throughout the year. A series of incremental deadlines will be devised for each project, and a detailed journal will be required. Training on business plan development, budgeting, and communication will be provided for all participants. The spring will be used to finalize project work and to design presentations to be shared with the school community.

Sample Projects


  • Impact of South Rome Redevelopment on Local Citizens

  • Water Quality Monitoring and Biodiversity Assessment of Silver Creek


  • Create and Run a Small Business

  • Develop, Launch and Maintain an iPhone App


  • Design and Implementation of a Music Education Experience at the Boys and Girls Clubs

  • Outdoor Classroom and Pollinator Garden Design at Darlington


  • Write and Direct a Play

  • Write and Self-Publish a Book

We are excited to launch Senior Ventures here at Darlington and look forward to reviewing proposals very soon. Members of our faculty committee will host a meeting in the Makerspace during Club Period on Wednesday (Feb 6) to answer questions about the program. There will be snacks. Please remember the deadline to submit is Feb. 19. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with questions.