Crossing the Stage: Redesigning Senior Year

Nancy Sizer examines the kaleidoscopic forces active in high school seniors’ lives to describe their particular opportunities and pressures. She moves beyond sympathy, reminding us that this transitional year, exciting and terrifying to many students, is often consumed by the frenzy of college admission or other post-high school role pursuit followed by the crash of senioritis, compounded by unique family and financial concerns. Sizer provides thoughtful ways to alter common aspects of the senior year, suggesting a year-long senior seminar, service learning, senior projects, exhibitions, and internships. She incisively argues for students’ need to purse their interests honestly, to do what they love and what helps them grow while avoiding the temptation to fill their plates with what they hope might look good to college admission committees and future employers. Adding insight derived from years of teaching senior-year students to details gleaned from interviews with a diverse, nationwide group of seniors, Sizer views the senior year experience with empathy and with an eye for what can be improved.

reviewed by Jill Davidson