Pembroke Academy

                    Senior Essay (rev. 1/25/18)

How Should I Live My Life?               


Every senior graduating from Pembroke Academy is required to write an essay answering the essential question, “How Should I Live My Life.”  This requirement is part of the Pembroke Performance Project and must be completed satisfactorily if you wish to walk with your class at June’s graduation ceremony. This essay may well be the most important assignment you’ve ever done in school as it allows you to showcase the writing skills you have developed over your four years here at Pembroke Academy and over twelve years of public education.


A satisfactory essay will show your genuine engagement with the question. As seventeen and eighteen-year-old young women and men, the number of real questions about your life’s direction and values each of you must answer is increasing exponentially: College or career? Which college? Which career? What kind of work will make me happy and fulfilled? Where do I want to live? How do I want to live? What do I want to live for? What do I value and how will my values drive my decisions? Do I have responsibilities to others and, if so, what are they? What foundation will I stand on when I make decisions? What will I stand for politically and why? What are my aspirations and how will I try to live up to them? What brings me joy? If someone refers to me in ten or twenty years, how would I like to be known?

You do not have to answer these specific questions, but engage with the questions and answer honestly, thoughtfully and reflectively. Consider what you feel is a life well lived, what does that life look like?  (How should I live and how will I live is not the same question.)


A satisfactory essay will also demonstrate the clarity of your writing. Your diploma represents and documents your competence as a writer and as a critical thinker; therefore, you should demonstrate that competence in your essay. Take the time to work through the writing process. Share drafts with and benefit from the comments of your teachers, peers and family (who, after all, are really your audience). Use the editing process to ensure that your final copy is clear, crisp, and perhaps even graceful.


Your essay needs to be typed. Font size, margins, etc. are, within reason, not important here. What you have to say is important and the point of this exercise.


Your essays will be graded holistically. Each essay will be read once by at least two faculty members who assign a number to it based upon the criteria noted above: level of genuine engagement with the topic and clarity of writing. If the two readers are not in agreement as to the quality of the essay, a third faculty member will read your work. Once this process is completed, each essay will receive, ideally, a rating of Distinguished or Proficient. If the readers feel the essay still needs work, it will be returned to the writer for further revision. Again, completing these essays is a graduation requirement; they will not, however, be a significant part of your English course grade.


Finally, we all urge you to take this task seriously, and to approach it with energy and integrity.