By Jenna Palme ’17 and Lizaveta Slinko ’17
After this year, Midwood will be saying goodbye to its Woodlands Individual Senior Experience (or WISE) program.
WISE is a program that allows seniors to take government and economics in their first semester so in their second they can focus on an individual study and eventually give a presentation on it. The program accounts for two Social Studies credits and one English credit. During their time in WISE, students get to pick a topic they’re passionate about and explore it. Presentations begin in April and span the entire period as the students worked on it all semester in and outside of school.
This non-traditional class meets only once a week, on Wednesdays either with Ms. Rosemarie Gamba or Ms. Laura Gavenda. However, students are expected to research their topics and develop their projects on a daily basis. One of the requirements for the completion of this class is the research journal, which accounts for the English aspect of the class and counts for 20 % of the final grade.
In addition, students are required to choose a mentor and are required to meet with that person weekly. This portion of the program is worth 10 % of the student’s final grade.
WISE wasn’t at Midwood until 2004, but started in 1972 at Woodlands High School in Greenburgh, New York. This program was created with the intent to combat “senioritis” by having student’s grades determine whether or not they get the three credits that the class is worth.
Ms. Gamba stated the program allowed for a lot of innovation and flexibility for the students. The new curriculum would be more rigid, rather than having the students focus on what they want to learn about, they would have to present on an aspect of government and economics.
“There was not enough seat-time to accumulate credit,” said Ms. Gamba. “Meeting days rotated because of attendance issues.”
The administration argued that students simply weren’t doing enough to earn their three credits, although according to Ms. Gamba the entire first term of the class is devoted to learning about government and economics. The English portion of the program is fulfilled during the second term, through writing and research.
Ms. Beth Vershleiser said the program needed to align itself to a curriculum that included government and economics as well as the common core English standards.
The program inspired self-motivation in its members, who sought to complete their required courses in a flexible classroom setting, which they could adapt to their own unique interests.
Students like Ally Gayle ‘16 joined WISE because it gave her the opportunity to be creative. “My friend and sister who went to the school did it. They told how much fun it was, and I helped them do their projects.” She continued, “Also I just really love projects and having the opportunity to be creative.”
The class gave students a taste of what college will be like as it gave them a sense of independence. When hearing that the program was ending, students we shocked and upset to find out.
“I feel really sad, my sisters got into Midwood and it’s upsetting she won’t have the opportunity to experience it,” said Gayle.
Nicole Khotimsky ’16 said, “I think it’s a shame. Although people think we didn’t do that much work, we actually did.”
Ms. Gamba believes with the loss of the WISE program, there will be a loss of the ability to have students learn about themselves.
There still is hope for WISE to return though, Ms. Vershleiser stated if a curriculum could be developed to match what is required, the program could come back.