Return to Headlines

With One Student’s Idea, Senior Seminars are Born at SHS

Studnets at tablesAlong with studying for AP exams, there were other things on Jake Gannon’s mind. He had devised, planned and even named the first-ever Senior Send-Off Seminars as part of a peer leadership project. Now, with major academic challenges occupying his mind space, he also had to ensure a school-wide event would operate smoothly.

“It was not easy,” Gannon said. “It took a lot, definitely. But making sure everything and everyone was set and taking care of some last-minute changes, everything was worth it in the end.”

Gannon’s brainchild came to fruition on May 31 at Somers High School. Senior students had their choice of seven different seminars on a variety of subjects, from learning more about investments to cooking to automotive care.

Students outside at a red carSome of seminars were taught by teachers, others taught or co-taught by students. They were well-attended, with as many as 50-plus students on hand for one.

Gannon spent his time buzzing around, helping the event run with few hiccups.

“I wanted to see this all the way through,” he said.

Gannon had worked on the event since late winter. His teacher, Doug Packard set the goals for Peer Leadership Projects: they needed to be repeatable in future years and leave a positive mark on the district.

“I was playing around with a few ideas,” Gannon said. “I asked some joking questions, like why doesn’t the high school teach me this?”

That idea resulted in the notion of seminars. He talked through the plan with Principal Mark Bayer. Through the advice and assistance of teachers Brenda and Elizabeth O’Shea, Gannon organized processes where students and teachers ould volunteer to help.

Timothy Lee volunteered to teach self-defense. Michael Aquilino co-taught a seminar on investment. Around the school, students used their deep knowledge of unique topics to inform their peers.

“Every single class I went into, there were kids with smiles on their faces,” Gannon said.

Although he will soon move on to new challenges, Gannon hopes the event will continue in the future — meeting one of the key criteria initially set forth by his teacher. After the work he did, the framework is certainly in place.

“With the administration on board, I’m sure there will be another student like me who wants to do something like this in the future,” he said.

June 5, 2023