July 10, 2024
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Ma’ayanot Seniors Are Enlightened by Encounter Program

With college acceptance letters in hand and the whiff of graduation in the air, it can be difficult for 12th graders to find meaning at the end of senior year. Yet, at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, seniors meet that challenge. Through participating in the school’s Encounter program, the school’s seniors engage in a research and internship program that requires them to immerse themselves in areas or topics of their choosing.

This year, students chose to participate in an eclectic variety of opportunities, which they researched with the assistance of their faculty adviser, Mrs. Shira Donath.

“The students benefited from having real-world, hands-on experience while learning practical skills or observing the day-to-day lives of different professionals,” said Mrs. Donath. “Having that knowledge better prepares them for the future.”

For example, three students worked with a beekeeper at the New Jersey Beekeeping Association, a non-profit organization in Ridgewood, New Jersey. “We learned about the science of bee activity, the work of beekeepers and the most successful ways to market merchandise,” said Neti Linzer. “Of course, we also got to taste some delicious honey along the way.”

Linzer and her classmates Avigayil Keiser and Tehila Azar worked with local beekeeper Danny Senter to gain some hands-on experience with hives. “He keeps approximately one million bees!” noted Linzer.

Another student collected pharmaceutical data, which was submitted to the FDA. Others assisted Sinai students at schools, including RYNJ. One senior shadowed the school nurse at Yeshivat HeAtid. Three Ma’ayanot seniors created a bat mitzvah for seniors from the Jewish Home at Rockleigh who had never celebrated this milestone. Several students shadowed local doctors and dentists. One senior, Sara Sverdlova, worked with a clinical dental technician and learned how to make dentures.

“I observed how teeth were molded, created and adjusted to fit the client’s need,” said Sverdlova. She also learned from her mentor that “a job should be performed with love and not just for money.”

Ilana Kaufman, who volunteered at NechamaComfort, a non-profit organization that provides families with support after experiencing miscarriage or loss of an infant, said she wanted to research the positive effects of doing chesed. “Before my internship, I came across many research studies that discussed the health benefits and positive side effects that come along with community service,” she said. After experiencing the emotional effects of a support group, she added, “My internship showed me that the greatest effect is how it impacts you, and what you will do with that experience. This experience has been moving and inspiring, and has shown me that I have much to be thankful for.”

After fulfilling the required 50 hours of work, students gave presentations to faculty, which included reflections about their experiences as well as visual components. For example, one student worked in a library and wrote biographies of war heroes. The library published her work and she shared the publication at her presentation. Another student trained her dog to be a therapy dog and brought in her pooch to demonstrate the skills the two of them had learned.

Plans are already in the works for next year’s Encounter program, which will also include workshops for seniors on crafting a resume, writing business letters, interviewing, workplace conduct and other professional skills.

 

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