By Kevin O’Rourke
Every year Northwest High School’s Ulysses Signature Program offers students a unique opportunity to enhance their high school experience through being involved in a small, nurturing intellectual community.
This week, senior students participating in the school’s Ulysses Signature Program presented their final projects at the Ulysses Fair, which took place on Wednesday and Thursday, with half of the seniors presenting on each day.
The honors program which is unique to Northwest, is a four year experience according to Ulysses coordinator Dr. Suzanne Borenzweig. “The Ulysses Signature Program is designed to encourage student-initiated explorations in areas of strong interest. We encourage students to make connections through multidisciplinary investigations enhanced by technology.”
The final research projects are labors of love for the students. They allow students to focus their Ulysses honors coursework in an area which is both a personal passion and the student’s strongest academic interest.”
As a result, the variety of topics presented at the annual Ulysses Fair covers the spectrum from something as serious as senior Josh Levy’s “Study of the Psychological Effects on Poverty,” wherein he was able to find a correlation between negative parent-child interactions and living in poverty through surveys he conducted within the school; to Celeste Chung’s, “Study of Mermaid Mythology,” which traces the way myths about mermaids have changed throughout history.
“It is so fabulous to see our kids constructing their own knowledge,” said Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr, who stopped by Ulysses Fair on Thursday to check out the presentations. “To see these students going beyond the classroom and perusing things that they are interested in is fabulous. They are learning how to research, learning how to manage their time, and learning how to do that on topics that they are interested. That is what education is about. It is not just about passing tests, it is about doing this kind of work. I love the fact that Northwest models that for the rest of the county.”
Now in its eleventh year, the Ulysses Signature Program accepts applications from eighth grade students who will be attending Northwest the following Fall. Borenzweig explained that the program, which requires students be nominated by two middle school teachers and expects students to maintain a grade point average of 3.0 in all classes throughout their four years at Northwest to remain, receives about 170 applications for the roughly 100 spots in each class every year.
“I was in private school before I came to MCPS,” explained senior Ulysses Program participate Maxwell Huges, “and while I was looking at Northwest, I saw they had the special honors program, the Ulysses Program. I wanted to do it because the private school I was at advanced and I wanted to challenge myself. It was a four year research program and senior year, you would get to research your own project and I really like that.”
Hughes, a member of Northwest’s two-time state championship football team chose, “Sports Injuries: On and Off the Field,” where he explores Northwest athletics and analyzes the numbers of types of injuries among the school’s athletes.
“Through the program, I have learned a lot of skills,” said Hughes, “such as how to research properly, how to property cite research, and how to properly integrate quotes into my research papers. Skills that many college-ready students don’t have. It has given me a step up.”
Top: MCPS Superintendent of Schools Joshua Starr in a discussion with Northwest senior, Regina Pogosian, about her Ulysses Fair presentation “Cyber Security: Protecting Your Life” at the Ulysses Fair in Northwest High School’s auditorium on Thursday.
Next: Seniors in Northwest High School’s Ulysses Signature Program presented their final projects at the Ulysses Fair which took place on Wednesday and Thursday in the auditorium at Northwest.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.