The Class of 2020 Legacy Project reimagines senior projects for the pandemic era

The Dana Hall Class of 2020 is participating in an alternative, at-home Senior Project from May 11 through May 29, while Dana Hall is doing virtual learning during the COVID-19 outbreak. Normally during this time, the graduating class participates in off-campus senior projects, being mentored by professionals in the Boston area and getting real-world experience in a field of interest. Through the Class of 2020 Legacy Project, this year’s seniors have chosen something that they are interested in learning more about that will help them reflect upon these unprecedented times in quarantine. For later generations of Dana students to learn from the senior class’s experiences, the Dana Hall Archives is accepting copies of final projects as well. 

As part of the project, each student must keep a daily journal and has a member of the Dana Hall faculty to consult with for support. Because of the virus, projects have to be completed in physical isolation, with materials that seniors have readily available. In addition, there needs to be a research and/or reading component to the project, which includes anything from reading a book to watching relevant “how-to” videos. Each student is giving a final presentation on Zoom with their faculty mentor to other members of the senior class. In the words of Kira Fried ’20, “I’m sure we all know it’s a weird and hard time for people, and this project has given the senior class a way to redirect their attention and energy toward something they care about.”

Seniors’ projects range from trying out mindfulness and meditation to dropping rocks with inspirational messages on nature walks. Kira says, “I am making a cookbook of my favorite recipes and new ones, which means it’s going to be mostly breakfast and desserts because those are my favorite meals, so don’t look here for a balanced diet. My whole family cooks and it’s always been really important to my parents that my brother and I know and enjoy food, eating it, buying it, and making it. So this is something that not only makes me happy and calms me down. I’ve always baked or cooked when I’m stressed or worried or need a break, but it’s also something that ties me to my family and is helpful as a life skill.” Similarly, Bink Vijitkasemkij ’20 is also creating a cookbook. She says, “for my Legacy Project, I’m writing a ‘Quarantine Qookbook’ which combines my 15 favorite baking recipes. Baking has never really been my forte, so I figured it would be fun to try and master it in two weeks.”

Samiha Farooqi ’20 plans on creating a senior project with significance to her childhood by creating a photo essay. She says, “my plan is to take pictures of the places around me that have most impacted me as I’ve grown up. I’ll be taking each picture through a car window in an effort to follow social distancing rules. I’m pretty much using this project as an excuse to find closure somehow given how high school has ended so abruptly for us.” 

Sam Wong ’20 is continuing her study of Mandarin. She says, “As one of the only people in my family who does not speak any dialect of Chinese, I’ve always wanted to be able to speak it, but have never had much time or opportunity to do so. Especially after having to drop Chinese at Dana this year due to scheduling issues, I’ve quickly and regretfully already forgotten much of the little I knew. With this opportunity, I hope to relearn the basics and start developing strong and stable language learning habits so that I’ll eventually be able to speak Mandarin with the rest of my family and friends.” 

Nathalie Martin-Nucatola ’20 is “watching the PBS series Articulate and writing short summaries on some of the episodes. Articulate is is a short deep dive on different artists in different artistic fields and their insights, thoughts and opinions on their work and life in general.” She is looking forward to learning more about artists and their creative expression as an avid dancer. 

Nancy Park ’20 is creating an online version of Wheeler, the dorm she wasn’t able to finish off her senior year proctoring. She says, “although I do not know how well it will turn out, my digital model of Wheeler will be a reminder of my forever home.” Similar to Nancy, Jocelyn Zuckerman ’20 is also recreating her favorite spot on campus, Beveridge, by building a Lego version.

This at-home adaptation of the annual Dana Hall senior projects takes into account how the class of 2020 will hold a unique place in our school’s history. The Legacy Project allows seniors the opportunity to consider their legacy at Dana Hall, in their family, and in their community. 

Photos: Kira Fried eats her own cooking, and Jocelyn Zuckerman builds Beveridge from Legos.

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