Senior Project

Senior Project is a challenging and often-life changing, graduation requirement. At Wakefield, each senior chooses, defines and accomplishes a significant, real world project. The project, which includes both research and field experience, reflects between 100 and 150 hours of work. Students in a Selective Elective Senior Project demonstrate the completion of approximately 75 hours, embedded in an elective course of their choice. Students document all activities related to their Senior Project objectives in journals and write about their experiences in a 6-10 page expository essay, upon completion of their project.

Each Senior Project culminates in a 15-25 minute oral presentation before a four-person assessment panel. At the end of the experience, many students say that Senior Project is their most significant accomplishment so far and that this success has given them the confidence to tackle whatever challenges lie ahead.

Every Wakefield Senior –whether in general or advanced classes, whether a native English speaker or one who speaks English as a second language, whether a standard learner or one with unique accommodations — has the equal and exciting opportunity to learn and practice the valuable life and career-related skills that are the cornerstone of this program.

In 2016, then-Governor Terry McAuliffe came to Wakefield High School to sign into law guidelines for Virginia’s new graduation requirements.  Included in this legislation is a recommendation that all Virginia graduates participate in a program of skill and performance-based activities, designed to engage students in experiences that increase their college and career readiness.  Wakefield’s Senior Project program was cited by the State Board of Education as one of the initiatives that inspired this recommendation. 

Governor McAuliffe

Meet the coordinator

Ms. LabellaLisa Labella is a long-time member of the Wakefield faculty, now in her 21st year at the school and her 10th year as Senior Project Coordinator. Ms. Labella is also a special education teacher, specializing in the areas of Social Studies, English, Learning Disabilities and Urban Education. Ms. Labella is a strong believer in the real-life, performance-based learning that Senior Project requires. Parents, students and educators should feel free to contact Ms. Labella to discuss Senior Project, her favorite topic. She can be found in Room A-137 or reached by e-mail at or by calling her direct phone line, 703-228-6666.

We are always looking for parents and community members with expertise in a variety of areas. If you would like to help please contact Lisa Labella at