Seniors showcase literary re- search at inaugural symposium


Photo by Yash Sharma

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THIS YEAR, THHS seniors were able to present and display their work from the Humanities Seminars to an audience of teacher, professors, fellow students, and even some parents. The Inaugural Humanities Symposium took place on May 19 at the Benjamin Rosenthal Library at Queens College.

There were fourteen presentations, representing a variety of literary genres. Each presentation took about ten minutes and was followed by a question and answer session.

“[English teacher Brian Sweeney, Assisstant Principal of Humanities Rafal Olechowski], and I were talking about how hard the students were working in the spring semester and how motivated they were to do their research,” said Director of College Preparatory Programs Robin Hizme. “We wanted to have both a showcase to show off how wonderfully they’ve created these projects, which they had never done before, and we also wanted to give them a goal to work towards.”

Mr. Sweeney added, “We thought that it would be a good idea to have students present their research in a more college-like environment.”

“Often [students] do assignments because [they’re] told to, or for a grade,” said Mr. Olechowski.

However, he wanted to test seniors’ abilities to articulate even further. “The skill of writing a paper because I assigned it to you will end at some point in college,” he added. “At one point you will be writing things you really believe in, that you’re excited about.”

The symposium would thus be a perfect opportunity, in his opinion, to experience this and prepare for not only college, but postgraduate studies. Senior Karen Su feels that she benefitted from the experience of presenting in front of an audience. “It was definitely nerve-wracking at first, since it was the first time that I had presented an academic paper to an audience larger than an average class size of 30,” she said.

Some seniors, like Yarim Lee, opted to make a powerpoint presentation instead of presenting live in front of others. “It gave my group members and I a chance to say what we wanted to say and write what we wanted to write, without the pressure of time or an audience,” she said.

To close the symposium, an awards ceremony and reception were held at THHS. Among the awards were recognition for the “Best Close Reading,” “Best Research,” “Most Innovative Topic,” and “Best Presentation.”

The supervisors of t he Seminar hope that this will become an annual function.

Mr. Olechowski said, “[Professor Hizme] and I designed it so that this was clearly a test.”

Since the test went well, he is already thinking about bringing Queens College undergraduates to present their research next year to allow Harrisites to experience higher level presentations.

“It’s a nice contrast between ‘you’ and the ‘four years ahead of you’ you,” he said.