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The Pingry Independent Senior Project

For many students, the Independent Senior Project (ISP) is one of their most memorable and rewarding experiences at Pingry. The capstone of a Pingry Upper School education, the ISP is a self-designed learning project that students undertake outside of the classroom during the final five weeks of their senior year. From exploring fields of interest through internships in medicine, finance, law, or media, for example, to following a dream to develop their own community service or art project, students are invited to delve into a topic or project that they have always wanted to explore but for which they have never quite had the time.

As part of the ISP, Pingry students receive feedback and guidance from their project mentor and Pingry's ISP coach. At the culmination of the program, participants present their projects to the school community and family members—a great opportunity for younger students to learn about the ISP program and begin to envision what they might like to pursue their senior year.

Why Require an ISP? Because Students. . .

Increase their self confidence

Students learn about themselves, including their strengths outside of school, and gain practical experience that can boost their confidence as they head off college and life beyond. The courage to try something new and to step out of their comfort zone is another valuable benefit.

Develop New Skills

With the guidance and feedback of their mentors and coaches, ISP participants not only learn skills related to the development and execution of a personalized project, but they also gain important hands-on, in-the-trenches skills from the projects, themselves.

Gain Real-World Experience

What better way to discover more about an area of interest than to experience it for yourself? While some ISP participants confirm their commitment to a particular field over the course of their program, others realize that an alternate path may be a better fit.

Follow their dreams

The four years of high school are, unquestionably, a busy time for students. Reserving the final five weeks of their senior year as a time to explore a passion that they never before had the time to pursue is a unique opportunity. The memories from these projects are indelible and provide a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment.

Develop Time Management Skills

ISP participants are responsible for reporting on their progress to their project mentors, showing up regularly and on time, and putting in the work. In short, they learn how to manage their own schedules outside of school and prioritize their responsibilities.

Learn From their Mistakes

It is a truism that the most valuable learning experiences can occur by making mistakes. ISPs provide opportunities for students to try something new and take risks while receiving advice and encouragement along the way.

Make Valuable Connections

ISP students typically spend 25 hours a week on their projects, equipping them with ample time for in-depth learning and insights from experienced professionals. Often, students stay in touch with the people they have met during the course of their projects and continuing receiving their valuable guidance in the future.

Are you a current student or parent looking for further details and requirements of the Pingry ISP?

Learn more.


Recent ISPs

Connor Beard

Class of 2017
Connor's ISP was a book, titled Humans of Pingry, developed to generate school spirit and "humanize" Pingry through the shared experiences of those he passed in the hallways every day.

Modeled after the popular photoblog, Humans of New York, which provides daily glimpses into the lives of individuals encountered on the streets of New York, Humans of Pingry showcases the stories, struggles, and dreams of different members of the Pingry community. Connor’s project included a blog on Facebook and Instagram, which he updated daily with photos and interviews, as well as a 122-page hardcover book, which can be viewed in the Admission Office.

Connor’s long-standing love of photography began in the first grade, when he received a camera for Christmas. Back then, he enjoyed taking snapshots and recording the world around him. Little did he realize that years later, his passion for photography would be the driving force behind his Independent Senior Project. One day during his freshman year at Pingry, Connor had a realization, which led to the idea for Humans of Pingry: “Although I went to school with over 500 students, I saw almost all of them as cardboard cutouts. I passed so many people in the hallways and never knew what was happening in their lives. They didn’t seem human to me, as much as one-dimensional characters.”

Fast-forward to his senior year, and Connor’s project idea materialized as he began taking photos and conducting interviews with students, teachers, coaches, member of the Dining and Facilities staff, and others around campus. With the guidance of his ISP mentors at Pingry, Connor developed a detailed project plan and timeline. Despite some unexpected challenges, he was successful in publishing his book and keeping his blogs updated with fresh content. Reflecting on his ISP, Connor shares, “I felt it was valuable in allowing me to get to know the community. I’ve gotten to learn all about Pingrians' struggles, stories, and their role models. It has been an incredibly enlightening experience that has made me feel closer to the school.”

Charlotte Curnin

Class of 2017
As an intern at an innovative local nutrition company, Charlotte gained first-hand experience in working with a small business.

The company, Living Plate, aims to help individuals build long-term healthy lifestyles, starting with a nutritious diet. In her role as an intern, Charlotte wore many hats and helped out wherever she was needed, from answering client questions by phone to participating in corporate presentations in the field. Her internship also taught her about important business functions, including marketing, operations, and strategy.

No day was the same—one day Charlotte sifted through healthy recipes to test-cook and modify, another day she wrote up nutritional protocols. Her final project deliverable? She crafted small recipe videos modeled after Buzzfeed's “Tasty” videos. Charlotte enjoyed getting to know her co-workers and helping clients to improve their eating habits. In the end, she learned about day-to-day life in a small business while advancing her knowledge of cooking and nutrition.

Sonia Wong

Class of 2017
As a Women’s Rights Intern at the National Organization for Women (NOW), Sonia gained hands-on experience working with a grassroots organization that helps protect the rights of girls and women in our country.

Each morning of her ISP, Sonia would commute into New York City (which, she learned, can be exhausting!) to begin her day at 9:30 a.m. In addition to answering phone calls and finding referrals for callers in need, Sonia was responsible for creating documents (“backgrounders”) on congressmen detailing their voting records and positions on certain issues related to women. Most of Sonia’s projects fell under the umbrella of VAWA (Violence Against Women Act).

Sonia has some helpful advice for future seniors considering an internship like hers: “I must warn that this internship was at times both mentally and physically draining. Some of the material is heavy. For example, when taking a helpline call, you may get a person who is being abused and needs help, but you have to maintain your composure.” The experience was nevertheless an eye-opening one, and taught her a lot about current events in the scope of women’s rights. Reflecting on her ISP at NOW, Sonia adds, “The internship was also very meaningful in that I was no longer a bystander. It was very rewarding to know that I was going into an office every day to better women's roles in society."

Miles LeAndre

Class of 2017
For many Pingry seniors, the ISP involves some level of self-discovery, and for Miles LeAndre, his project sparked a newfound interest in music production. Along with classmate Chris Varvaro ’17, Miles proposed an ISP that involved writing raps and producing music, which they recorded and then later performed at Pingry for the ISP Open House. They also uploaded several of their original songs on SoundCloud, resulting in over 13,000 plays.

Miles worked alongside Chris, who was a musician in Pingry’s Jazz Ensemble. Chris taught Miles new skills, such as how to adjust his vocals and use online tools to produce music. Miles considers these hands-on lessons invaluable as an artist. “One very important thing I learned is the production side of music. When I was writing raps prior to the ISP, I would record and then Chris would do all of the production. Through our work together at school on the ISP, I was able to watch him and learn to produce music, which made me more independent.”

In offering up advice to Pingry students considering their own ISPs, Miles recommends that seniors do something they truly enjoy. “If you do an ISP on something that doesn’t interest you, it will be a really long month. However, if you find something that you really love doing, the time will fly by.