Now a few weeks into the second semester, seniors enrolled in AP Literature are now being assigned their senior reflections. The assignment, a tradition for Jesuit seniors dating back to 1997, is a reflection prompt given to every senior in their senior English classes. Seniors are asked to reflect one or two of the 5 areas of the Profile of a Jesuit Grad at Grad and on their time at Jesuit as a whole.
“The senior reflection project was created as a way of student’s multi-year experience at Jesuit,” said Principal Paul Hogan.
“It’s always good for people to reflect back at the end of an experience and look at its impact on one’s life,” said Admissions Director Erin DeKlotz.
“Jesuit asks students to look at how Jesuit has personally impacted them these last four years.”
The inception of the project came from former Jesuit principal Sandy Satterberg in the late ‘90s. The reflections were designed to be a gift for seniors during graduation. A book containing the graduating class’ senior reflections are handed out to students during graduation practice.
Senior reflections are meant to create a space for students look back through their years at Jesuit in a meaningful, thoughtful way while keeping on the Profile of the Jesuit Grad at Grad in the forefront of their minds.
“The senior reflections are meant to be a time to step back and reflect on your growth,” senior and sophomore English teacher Megan Mathes said.
“Students are encouraged to pick one area of the Profile of the Grad at Grad that has come to deeply matter to them.”
However, there appears to be a discrepancy between how students view the project versus the staff. For some seniors this year, the assignment has proven to be more of an unwanted challenge rather than a chance for thoughtful reflection. With the timing of when they have to write and different interpretations of the reflection’s purpose, many students are finding themselves at odds with the reflection.
“I didn’t really know what to reflect on because I felt like the guidelines weren’t that clear,” said senior Iman Irving, who wrote her reflection late December.
“The timing also felt strange, because I still felt like a junior when I wrote it.”
“I feel like it’s purely a marketing tool for Jesuit,” said senior Parthav Easwar, who recently completed the assignment for his AP class.
“I felt swayed to only reflect on the good, when a reflection is supposed to include both good and bad experiences.”
However, teachers and administrators seem to stress that the senior reflections meant for students.
“The Senior Reflection book is not a marketing tool for Jesuit; we print about 340 each year—one for each senior, and the rest for faculty and staff who request it,” Hogan said.
While Mrs. DeKlotz is in charge of picking out quotes to show potential students who are interested in Jesuit, she says that the reflections are not supposed to be a marketing tool.
“I read through every reflection and a lot of them move me, sometimes to tears,” DeKlotz said. “The assignment is not purely for marketing at all. By reading the reflections, we get a holistic sense of how our seniors have been affected by Jesuit, and the reflection is meant to be a gift for seniors at the end of their time with us. Those of us who work at Jesuit can learn a lot by listening to what our seniors say has been important to them during their 4 years.”
Further, Mathes argues that the senior reflection is not the best place for criticism of Jesuit.
“Maybe there is a need for a second reflection in order for students to fully express their thoughts and feelings about their experiences that maybe don’t fit into the assignment,” Mathes said. “Although, I would be sad if a student couldn’t take the time to reflect on their own growth. It should be a celebratory thing.”
The miscommunication between staff intention and student perception suggests a need for more clear guidelines that spell out the gift students are meant to give themselves through the reflection. Timing for the paper could also be pushed back in order to allow students to get as many months as a senior under their belt as possible in order to be able to properly reflect.
In the meantime, seniors can look forward to receiving their classmate’s reflections come graduation. And for seniors having difficulty completing the assignment, Mathes and senior English teacher Maureen Milton encourage recalling a meaningful experience that occurred at or because of Jesuit and go from there.
“Find a story that manifests an element of your experience of the Profile,” senior English teacher Maureen Milton said.
“The reflection is supposed to be a residue of the person you were at Jesuit.”