I went out to Leilehua High School today, my alma mater.  It is always great to go back home, to the place where I grew up and went to school.  It’s very grounding and peaceful, in a sense, to know this is where I came from. 

The school has a senior project where the student picks a topic and finds a mentor to help, researches it, puts together the body of work in a written report, and then presents it orally to a panel of judges in what is called the Oral Boards.  This senior project is not mandatory for all seniors, but one day it may be.    

In classrooms all over the school, students were covering all kinds of subjects with separate judges in each classroom. I was one of the judges. 

Before the oral presentations, you are asked to arrive early enough to meet the other judges and especially to view the students’ work in their binders.  Very impressive work.  It makes you anticipate their oral presentation.

In my classroom, one of the girls tackled organic versus non-organic foods.  The other girl took on obesity in relation to fast foods, and the guy discussed photography in medicine.

This is what we had to judge them on:

  • Self directed learner: Do they understand the purpose and challenge–do they provide clear and convincing evidence of commitment, effort, independence, and problem solving?  Do they have clear evidence of a learning stretch and self-discovery?
  • Community Contributor: How well do they interact with others outside of the classroom? Is there evidence of an established professional working relationship with those outside the classroom?
  • Complex Thinker: Do they connect the paper and the learning / research experience in the oral presentation?
  • Effective and Ethical User of Technology: The use and integration of technology in their work and presentation.  (All three used a powerpoint presentation and video.)
  • Effective Organization of Presentation: They had to have a logical, well-organized presentation that clearly and comprehensively connected all components of their project.
  • Effective Visuals in Communicating: They needed to be relevant, error-free, well-organized, neat and clearly guide the audience through the presentation.
  • Effective Delivery in Communicating: They needed to be articulate, use standard English, have good posture, eye contact, professional dress, good volume and speaking rate, good choice of words and poise.
  • Effective in the question and answer period,  they should be able to answer with fluency and confidence.

I literally tripped out today.  I was very impressed with the intitiative the school is taking on and the quality of the students’ presentations.  I told the other judges, when I was a senior, I would never have been able to do this type of project or presentation.  I didn’t have the tools, the resources, nor the awareness to pull if off like they did today, nor was it available.  This is the sort of thing I would expect in a private school, especially a college prep school. 

I plan to bring it back to restaurant and use it to inspire our team to reflect on our skills and set new goals for improvement.  They have a slogan for this: ”Passion into Action.”