The Sage Project unites mentors with students

Contemporary Lit project teaches students lessons beyond writing a research paper

Senior Alex Hutchins sits hunched over a computer in the library fishbowl,  forehead creased in thought as she transcribes her interview with her “sage” for a contemporary literature project.  

However, this project doesn’t only require the research skills that contemporary lit students possess – the semester long assignment is based on the novel “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom and calls for students to choose a mentor, or “sage” to interview.

“[The students] are synthesizing information that they learn from the book, then applying it into their lives,” said contemporary literature teacher Shawnee Rivera, “This goes beyond plot structure and literary devices – this is life.

Through this project, students are able to not only build research skills but also acquire life lessons from a role model of their choice.

“We have to go find an adult who’s influenced us greatly somehow,” Hutchins said.  “We sort of ask them philosophical questions … about life, death or actions.”

The Sage Project connects students with a role model that they otherwise might not have had a close relationship with.

They come to see their [sages] as actual people who know a ton about all the inner workings of life,” Rivera said.

“On certain topics [my sage and I] have completely different views, but when she explained them to me … it changed my own perspective,” senior Irena Voromova said.

The project also requires students to pick from five topics ranging from forgiveness to death and life,  and come up with questions for each topic that are then incorporated into their interviews in a conversation-like manner. In this process, students can truly reach a level of understanding and kinship with their mentors.

“[The Sage project helps students learn] about who they are, who surrounds them and what is fascinating to them,” Rivera said.

Because the interviews are so natural, it allows students and their sages to have room for expanding into other topics and for the students to gain even more insight and knowledge into their sages.

 “The project helped me to understand myself better and … put more effort into [understanding] other people’s points of views,” Voromova said.