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What Senior Year Looks Like at BASIS Charter Schools

Senior year at BASIS Charter Schools is part of what makes our school experience so unique. Due to the accelerated nature of our high school curriculum, most of our students meet the state requirements for graduation by the time they complete grade 11. However, the majority of students choose to continue into grade 12 to take advantage of our advanced study opportunities.

At BASIS Charter Schools, our school calendars are split into trimesters. During the first and second trimesters of their senior year, BASIS Charter School seniors focus on completing capstone courses and applying to colleges. During the third trimester, our seniors are off campus completing Senior Projects.

Let’s take a closer look at the senior year structure at BASIS Charter Schools!

First and second trimesters

Capstone courses

BASIS Charter School seniors take capstone courses in humanities, math, science and foreign language. These capstone courses are post-AP courses designed to emulate the experience of a college classroom. They feature independent research, lab work and seminar-style discussion.

From anatomy to game theory to French philosophy, capstone courses are a great way for students to dive deep into a particular area of study. Specific course topics vary from year to year and from school to school.

Mario Z., BASIS Prescott graduate, says the advanced courses he took during his senior year were one of his favorite parts of attending BASIS. “At a lot of other schools, you wouldn’t be able to take these types of rigorous classes. BASIS really facilitates advanced study for seniors and encourages students to make the most of their time.”

Daily meetings with college counselors

A daily College Counseling Seminar is built into our senior year curriculum. During this daily seminar, seniors learn about different universities, explore potential career paths and research scholarship opportunities. They work one-on-one with College Guidance Coordinators to prepare college applications and navigate the financial aid process.

Our dedicated College Guidance Coordinators work hard to ensure that all students find the school that is the best fit for them. They facilitate campus visits, host events with university admissions representatives, and provide students with support and resources as they apply to schools.

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Preparing for Senior Projects

One of the most unique aspects of our Senior Program are our student-designed Senior Projects. These projects consist of high-level, off-campus research aligning with students’ individual interests. Senior Projects give students an opportunity to develop a deep content knowledge and make a real and direct impact on their field of study.

Students who choose to complete a Senior Project begin preparing for the experience in the first and second trimesters of their senior year. During this time, they’ll choose a topic, write proposals and secure internships. They will also choose a BASIS Charter School faculty member to act as their advisor.

Shraddha D., BASIS Peoria graduate, says her teachers played a large role in helping her determine the focus of her Senior Project. “Through conversations with my teachers, I was able to better understand my interests,” she says. “My school enabled me to further those interests and make deeper connections.”

Celebrating the last day of school with Grad Walk

Since the third trimester of senior year is dedicated to off-campus Senior Projects, our seniors’ last day on campus typically falls in February or early March. To celebrate, many of the schools in our network host a “Grad Walk” event for seniors.

During the Grad Walk, seniors dress up in their caps and gowns and walk through the halls of their school while faculty, staff and students from lower grades cheer them on. It’s an exciting day where seniors get to celebrate their accomplishments while surrounded by their peers.

“The Grad Walk is really cool. It’s like an early graduation with all of your classmates,” says Mona S., BASIS Scottsdale graduate. “I started at BASIS in fifth grade, so it’s something that I got to see happen every year. Participating in the Grad Walk myself was a full-circle moment for me.”

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Third trimester

Completing off-campus Senior Projects

The BASIS Charter School Senior Project is a 10-week project consisting of high-level, off-campus research on an approved topic. Students spend an estimated 15 hours per week working on their Senior Projects. They perform research, analyze their findings and meet frequently with their mentors. Additionally, students are required to publish a blog post each week that documents their progress.

The day-to-day experience of completing a Senior Project looks different for every student. If a student is interning at a medical center, their day might include shadowing medical professionals and compiling health data. If a student is interning with the history department at their local university, they might spend most of their time diving into the university’s archives to uncover past research. Since students get to design their own projects, there is a lot of variation in the Senior Project experience!

BASIS Peoria graduate Shraddha D. encourages future BASIS Charter Schools to make the most of their Senior Projects. “Make sure you’re pursuing something you really want to learn more about,” she says. “You can get very creative with your project, so explore your ideas and think about what topic you want to understand further.”

Senior Project presentations

To round out the third trimester, our seniors return to campus to present their Senior Projects. They share an overview of their findings and discuss how their research could impact their field of study.

Senior Project presentation nights are an exciting time for our seniors, as it marks the end of all of their hard work! These presentation nights are attended by faculty, staff, families and fellow students.

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Shortly after completing their Senior Projects, our seniors officially graduate! Families are invited to join us for our commencement ceremonies, where we celebrate our seniors’ accomplishments and award them their diplomas. These ceremonies typically include addresses from students, faculty and guest speakers.

By the time they graduate, our seniors have completed a minimum of six AP courses. They’ve also completed post-AP work in the form of capstone courses and Senior Projects. All in all, BASIS Charter School seniors master content that is significantly more advanced than what is typically taught in high school. Graduation is when we get to recognize them for their incredible achievements!

Students who earn a B or higher in each of their capstone courses earn a BASIS Diploma with Honors, while students who meet these requirements and successfully complete a Senior Project earn a BASIS Diploma with High Honors.

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Want to learn more about high school at BASIS Charter Schools? Year after year, BASIS Charter Schools are ranked among the best high schools in the nation, per U.S. News & World Report. Schedule a tour at a campus near you to see our curriculum in action. We look forward to welcoming you and answering your questions.

Amy Licht
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