In the spring term of each school year , the Urban School offers exclusively senior courses that explore topics not included in the Urban curriculum called Senior Spring classes: One Acts, Cal Studies, Research and Action Project, and Art as a Daily Practice. Among these, RAP and Art as a Daily Practice in particular not only keep seniors engaged in their education in the final weeks before graduation, but allow them to gain hands-on experience in the fields they want to pursue after high school.
According to Kate Randall, Urban’s Visual Arts Chair, who created the Senior Spring class Art as A Daily Practice nearly 15 years ago, the class’ purpose is to provide seniors with a unique opportunity to cultivate creative practices into their daily lives.
“The idea was to have a class where people transitioned from having very structured assignments where the teacher is telling them what to do, to starting to think about how do you create your own assignments for yourself, which is really what artists do in the world,” said Randall.
Research and Action Project (RAP), a Senior Spring course created two years ago, helps Seniors pursue an interest not formally supported by the Urban curriculum.
“To me, the purpose of Senior Spring is to allow a balance of independent focus, and also to connect it or at least in some way support our own curriculum at the same time,” said Dawn Jefferson, 11th and 12th grade Dean. According to Jefferson, RAP also helps train seniors to be efficient, independent workers. “People think they’re ready to go and do something on their own, but we found that that’s not always the case. We wanted to make sure there was a legitimate structure for them to be guided and not fall off the wagon.”
Taking both Art as A Daily Practice and RAP has provided Cameron Galley (‘17) a culminating experience to his art career at Urban. “I wanted to take Art as a Daily Practice because … I want to go to art school next year, and I want to major in graphic design, and so I want art to be a part of my future … and Art as a Daily Practice is the perfect outlet for that. It’s in the name, you just do art everyday.” said Galley. According to Galley, he was surprised by how seriously every student is taking their work, regardless of whether they already consider themselves artists, or they were just beginning to explore practicing art.
For her RAP Project, Kaylah Breiz (‘17) is focusing on studying San Francisco immigration policy and reaching out to organizations that provide resources for immigrants. Breiz mentioned that RAP has allowed her to think of her life after graduation.
“It’s not that I want to slack off and take easy classes because it’s Senior Spring, but I want to focus on these things that I could focus on in college,” Breiz said. According to Breiz, contrary to the stigma of Senior Spring classes, RAP has helped to keep her focused. “It definitely helps to have a Senior Spring class when you’re in your Senior Spring. The truth is, a lot of seniors are in college and feel like they don’t need to be motivated. What has been really motivating me is that I’m doing this work that I want to do.”
Overall, Art as a Daily Practice and RAP provide students with an opportunity to explore passions independent of the regular academic classes, providing them a window into the future that motivates them through their final twelve weeks at Urban.