All around the country, the beginning of May marks a time of relaxation and celebration for seniors, who have officially committed to their college of choice. At Pacifica however, the class of 2015 has yet to finish the race. Senior research presentations and faculty defenses are all happening now, and they account for fifty percent of students’ grades in their history course. Students can not afford to run out of gas now.
In the past, the Polemikon process consisted of a research paper topic of a student’s choice. Seniors would thoroughly investigate their topic over several months and then present their argument and findings to their class, ultimately educating them in their new field of expertise. This year, Polemikon has taken a new form; nonetheless, it raises a challenge. Students must make a thirty minute powerpoint presentation along with an elaborate homework assignment in media form (such as a website, blog, or video) to give context for student’s in-depth presentations. If they pass, then they move on to a faculty defense of their argument. Students must think about how their topic and argument applies to various readings from their english, and history classes – and sometimes science and arts classes. They must review all they have learned this year while having to face teachers of these respective classes. Polemikon has already started and the bar has been set high. Students have presented on interesting topics such Radical Behaviorism, Communism in Art, and Machismo. As students’ presentation dates approach, effort to perfect their projects are high.
Each student in Honors Foundations becomes an authority figure on their topic, able to teach a class, and become stronger speakers (because the pressure of talking about an entire “ism” that dominated the 20th century in a little under 30 minutes is momentous). Like any other massive senior thesis presentation that counts for almost half of a student’s grade, Polemkion brings stress. It seems like many students are frantic to perfect their speaking skills, rehearse daily, and become an expert on their thesis, especially with the options of taking a final and proceeding with the faculty defense are looming. This project is the last “bang” in Pacificans’ high school career. It is the highest academic honor – and seniors are attempting to surmount expectations. But with that stress comes payoff and accomplishment upon seeing Polemikon honors on a graduation certificate.