June 19 this marked the end of the school year and the conclusion of the senior class’ long tenure as a part of the Verona public school system. The day prior, though, marked the completion of the first year of Verona High School’s senior internship program known as Capstone.
Coordinated by VHS teacher Angela Salisbury, the intent of the Capstone program was to allow members of the graduating class to undertake unpaid internships with local companies throughout the last six weeks of school (shortly after the conclusion of the AP exams). These internships were often in fields respective to the student’s future career path. Salisbury explained in her presentation of the program to the Verona Board of Education on June 9 that, in addition to being able to “test drive” a career to learn about the positive and negative aspects of it, potential outcomes for students involved “realizing skills and abilities they never knew they had, making connections… becoming more confident and open to new experiences, and gaining maturity through responsibility.”
Work on the program began early in the school year. From September to March, Salisbury contacted prospective employers asking for participation and compiled a database of those who accepted her requests. Flyers were first distributed to students in October and interested students met during lunch one day in November, followed by an evening presentation for the parents. Applications were distributed in March, followed by a Meet and Greet event for students, parents and employers in April.
To participate in Capstone, students had to be in good academic standing with no failing grades. They had to have met all requirements for graduation having been met and have a satisfactory disciplinary and attendance record without an excessive amount of rule infractions or absences. Throughout the duration of the program, accepted students were graded based on a variety of factors of their performance in their respective jobs such as oral and written communication, interactions with the staff, attitude, dependability and professionalism in addition to the quality of their work and their creativity.
The program hosted internships from a variety of different sponsors such as the Verona school system itself, Barclays Capital, Overlook Medical Center, Lform Software Developers, and even MyVeronaNJ.com. Nine of the 21 students involved took jobs in the field of education and instruction, eight became teacher’s assistants in the school system as well as the Creative Kids Nursery School and the Children’s Institute, and one student became a dance instructor at Art in Motion Academy of Dance.
For the students, it would seem that the Capstone experience proved quite beneficial. Michaela Fogarty, who undertook a business internship at RiverMeadow Associates, told Salisbury that the experiences she had have “already influenced” her intended major in college. Daniella Kosinski, one of the two students who interned at Creative Kids, explained that the experience has made her “certain” that she wants to do something with kids as she gets older, adding that she has gained knowledge on how responsible and patient one has to be while working with young children. Kelly Clark, who became an instructor at Art in Motion, learned of how difficult running such a school could be and gained a “new perspective on the administrative side of dance.”
Overall, it would seem that the program ran quite smoothly for the first year. While Capstone could benefit from a wider variety of internships and an increased level of hands-on field work, it seems that it still will provide many opportunities for future seniors to explore their desired career paths.