Sky's the Limit for Durham Seniors

A program at Coginchaug Regional High School provides opportunity for independent study

The oil is sizzling at Coginchaug High School in Durham and the creative juices are flowing for members of the senior class who are involved in the Wise Independent Senior Experience -- WISE.

It's part of national program that was introduced here about 10 years ago. The concept is to allow seniors to explore something that isn't offered in the standard curriculum or that simply sparks their interest.

Zach Martowski, 17, did an exchange program in Mexico last year. Now he's embroiled in a six-month study of Mexican cooking. His travels south of the border were the impetus for his choice of project.

"I'm going to restaurants and I've been interviewing and we got different footage of restaurants around the area. It's a really fun project." He said.

Coginchaug is one of about a dozen Connecticut high schools with the WISE program.

It's completely student-driven. Seniors can choose virtually any topic and the project culminates with a public presentation.

Deanne Wallace is focusing her efforts on the the bands and the subculture of the underground music scene.

"If you just heard the music, you'd say what is this awful stuff? Turn this off. ... but I think, if you gained an appreciation for the culture and the ideas in it, then you might say I get this and what it's about," Wallace said.

Beth Wallace, co-coordinator of the WISE program, is a guidance counselor at Coginchaug.

"It is something great they can put on their resume and just a great experience to be able to follow through on a project of their interest," Wallace said.

It seems that, regardless of the area of study, these seniors are all the wiser for the experience.

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