Whether through an internship at a local business or pursuing an independent project, Senior Internship Program gives students the opportunity to focus on an area of interest outside the walls of Wilton High School. This experience can help students prepare for their intended field of study in college or explore a passion that doesn’t fit into a traditional classroom setting.

The program has been in place since 2009, and has been coordinated by physics teacher Scott Durkee since 2011.

Here’s a look at what four Wilton High School seniors are doing for their internship.

ALS Therapy Development Institute


Amanda and Elizabeth Craven chose to intern at the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) in Massachusetts because of their respective passions in medicine and business.

“We first traveled to Boston for a week to work at the ALS TDI headquarters,” the twins told The Bulletin. “While there, we were able to meet and speak with many dedicated researchers and fundraisers. We stuffed and mailed envelopes, formatted website pages, and even helped a bit in the lab.”

The Cravens first became involved with the ALS Therapy Development Institute their freshman year, when their father was diagnosed with the nervous system disease ALS, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Throughout their high school careers, Amanda and Elizabeth helped raise money for the institute and wished to continue learning more through their senior internship.

Amanda, who will be attending Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., to pursue a career in medicine, focused her internship on research. She shadowed a scientist in the lab to learn how cells are used to find a cure and was able to see how experiments were conducted. She also participated in meetings about the results and the steps that will be taken in the future.

Elizabeth, who will be attending the Questrom School of Business at Boston University in Boston, focused her internship on the business side of a non-profit organization. She shadowed workers around the office and helped raise money through online campaigns, websites, and making thank you calls.

As part of their internship, the twins also created a fundraising page for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon, which they will be running in October. The money they raise will go directly towards the ALS Therapy Development Institute and their research.

Amanda and Elizabeth have thoroughly enjoyed the experiences they’ve had and connections they’ve made through their internship.

“Working at ALS TDI has provided an opportunity to get outside our comfort zones and do things we never would have had the chance to do within the confines of a classroom,” the twins said.

Earthplace


Jeromy DiGiacomo adores animals and has always wanted a pet, so working in the animal hall at Earthplace in Westport was the perfect opportunity to get hands-on experience with critters of all shapes and sizes.

“I also really love science, and I thought it be cool for me to intern at Earthplace in a path towards a future career,” said Jeromy, who will be attending Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., to study biology.

Jeromy became involved with Earthplace last year through volunteer work. Since the start of his internship, he has taken up additional responsibilities, including cleaning and sanitizing tanks and cages, feeding the animals, and powerwashing outdoor exhibits.

He has also been to the five on-site classrooms, where he reads stories to the preschool students and educates them about the animals at Earthplace. Jeromy said encourages the children to be curious and become informed about the importance of preserving these animals’ lives.

So far, Jeromy said, he has enjoyed learning about habitat preservation and endangered species. Throughout the duration of his internship, Jeromy said he would like to have the opportunity to hold and handle one of Earthplace’s many large birds, which include eagles, hawks, and owls.

“I would like a majestic bird in my hand,” he said jokingly.

There are always surprises around the corner at Earthplace. “Every day we get a new task sheet with things we’re doing,” said Jeromy. “I’m always looking forward to the next day to see what we’ll be up to.”

Jeromy said he thinks interning is important because it provides students with experiences they wouldn’t be able to have in the classroom.

“It gets you outside ‘the bubble’ and puts you into the real world, which can be hard to fathom,” he said. “There’s a lot that we aren’t exposed to, so it’s important to get out there and learn before college.”

Middlebrook School


Grace Kelleher, who is considering becoming a teacher, returned to Middlebrook to work with her eighth grade reading writing Workshop teacher Alison Rubin for her senior internship.

“This internship could serve as a stepping stone to my area of study,” said Grace. “It’s interesting to see an application of a career I could pursue with my intended major.”

In the fall, Grace will be attending Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., to study English literature. Grace said she loves working with children and felt interning in a classroom setting would be a good fit for both her interests and skills.

Whether through organizing the classroom or adding to Rubin’s discussions, Grace said she has gotten a full experience of what life as an educator is like. She has also had the opportunity to answer many of the middle schoolers’ budding inquiries about attending Wilton High School.

“We’ve recently had a lot of clubs from the high school come in to talk to the students,” she said, “so I’ve been there to answer any residual questions.”

For the duration of her internship, Grace said she is looking forward to seeing the eighth grade yellow team students complete their Capstone projects, which they’ve been working on since the beginning of the year. Grace said she has enjoyed watching the middle schoolers explore their topics and put the finishing touches on their presentations.

Grace said she likes that interning allows for a relaxing change of scenery for tired seniors following such a busy year.

“It allows seniors a chance to feel mature and get out of the high school, doing something that matters,” Grace said. “Everyone’s doing something different that means something to him or her. It allows the education we’ve built over four years of high school to culminate in something we care about.”

Wilton High School’s internship program will culminate on Tuesday, June 14, with a symposium in the high school cafeteria, from 5 to 6 p.m., during which parents, teachers and community members will have the opportunity to talk with students about their internships and projects.