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October 19, 2010 > A QUEST for success

A QUEST for success

By Rajeswari Ramanathan

On September 28, seniors at Irvington High School (IHS) gathered in Norse Hall for their official QUEST Kick-Off. Almost sounds like a party, doesn't it? Well, actually, it is more about a journey that students will be taking to learn about themselves, their futures, and their potential.

QUEST, which essentially is an acronym for Question, Understand, Experience, Service, and Testimony, is a senior benchmark project at IHS. Each year at Irvington, students are required to complete a benchmark project to pass high school. Unique to Irvington, these projects are organized in a community perspective for freshmen year, world perspective for sophomore year, and introspective perspective for senior year. Junior year has been made an exception due to the load of SATs and ACTs.

Through the entire school year, QUEST is incorporated into the English and Government curricula. Students choose any topic that pertains to their interest and ask an essential question on that theme. Oftentimes, students choose an unfamiliar topic and through research, they come to learn and take interest in that specific area of study. The QUEST project comes in handy, especially for students who are indecisive about their future careers.

In addition to research, students go out into the community to find a consultant related to their Essential Question and work with that person to find the answer to their question. This "quest" is completed through community service and learning from that experience. In the end, each senior presents a 12-20 minutes presentation on his or her entire work for QUEST and his or her reflection on the work. Should a student fail the QUEST project, the student will not be able to graduate high school. Nonetheless, Irvington has had 100 percent passing rate; none of the seniors were held back in school for not passing QUEST.

"The service portion is really the main element of QUEST," said QUEST Coordinator Mark Rodocker. "That service is like a piece of magic when the students stand tall and proud, and realize that they've given back to the community. Because no matter what the students do, it is a topic that is important to them, which means that what they learn from this project, they will carry it on throughout their life."

Similarly, the Change Project is for freshmen, whereas the World Issues Project is for sophomores. While Change Project takes a local environmental issue for students to tackle, the World Issues Project oversees an international issue and attempts to prevent or eradicate it. All the benchmark projects at Irvington are service oriented and focused on going green, as Irvington was previously honored as "America's Greenest School."

These benchmark projects are designed to prepare students to face the outside world. Past students have greatly benefited from the projects as they learn humanitarian values and gain exposure to issues in the world. Finally, in their senior year, students come to learn about his or her potential and their career interest fields through QUEST.

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