Senior portfolios highlight student achievement, focus on the future

Senior portfolios highlight student achievement, focus on the future

High school seniors have put in the time and work; senior portfolios highlight their efforts while preparing them for what comes next.

For Kevin McGill, a Westlake High School senior, he has met his goal of getting a football scholarship to a Division 1 school, Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich. He’ll report to training camp this summer and start classes, likely majoring in sports management. Eventually, he’d like to play in the National Football League. If a career as a player doesn’t pan out, McGill will have his degree.

“I could be an agent,” he said. “I could do other things. Really, I just want to stay around sports.”

Westlake senior Shane Hillyer is planning to study criminal investigation. He started high school interested in computer programming but quickly learned he doesn’t like being behind a desk for long periods of time. It was also during his first year of high school that he was injured playing football and wound up in a wheelchair for a while, and on crutches for six months. He wrote about that time in his life for his portfolio.

The final part of the portfolio project — it is part of the English curriculum — is to present it to an interviewer. It prepares students for the “real world” when they might have to go out and get a job or impress someone in a college admission office. Not all of it is helpful.

“Honestly, ‘Tell me about yourself’ is tough,” Hillyer said, adding that he doesn’t want to sound arrogant, but he understands why many interviews start with that question. But the interview process can have its perks.

“It helps you realize you’re about to be involved in the real world,” he said.

Shaikh Carmichael wants to play in the NFL. He’s a standout on Westlake’s football team and one of the captains his senior year. His older brothers played football. The oldest, Roc, played for five years in the NFL. Carmichael trains everyday, either on his own or with his brothers. The only day off he takes is Wednesday.

“You need to have a break,” he said. But even on Wednesdays, he finds time to do pushups and sit-ups. He won’t forget. He jots notes on Post-Its and sticks them up around his room.

“Do sit-ups. Do pushups. Talk to dad,” they read. Carmichael’s dad died of a heart attack when he was 8; he wrote about it for his portfolio. Shaikh said the portfolio project introduced him to resume writing and helped him when it came to writing essays.

Tina Wilson, education chairwoman for the Charles County Chapter of the NAACP, was a volunteer interviewer at Westlake. A retired U.S. Army officer, Wilson was born and raised in Charles County, but has traveled the world.

She said vibrant communities have two things in common: a great education system and they take care of the environment. She said the NAACP chapter is being proactive and wants to be better partners in the community. Wilson enjoys hearing from students and learning about their future. “These guys are interesting,” she said. “You learn something new from each one.”

Brian Hammond, who interviewed students during the project, said it was a “great program.” “It gives the students the opportunity to hone their interviewing skills,” he said. “All the students I have met so far have been very impressive.”

Portfolios must have a resume, a letter of recommendation, a cover letter, a career and college readiness essay, along with artifacts — like honor roll certificates, varsity letters and newspaper articles. During the exit interview, seniors are rated on their greeting and introduction, appearance, self-confidence, career awareness and how they close the interview.

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced,

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

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