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Hillside campus 5400 Red Bank Road Cincinnati, Ohio 45227 513.271.9027 Doherty campus 2726 Johnstone Place Cincinnatio, Ohio 45206
The reach beyond your comfort zone school
Personal Challenge
The Personal Challenge project is a required experience for every Seven Hills student. Each student designs an original project that helps him further explore his interests or stretch beyond his comfort zone. Through conceiving, planning, carrying out, and completing a presentation of their Challenge, students learn more about themselves and their abilities, and come to realize they’re capable of even more than they’d thought.
Some students take current interests and build them into something really ambitious. One student who enjoyed sewing decided to recreate the voluminous, elaborate coronation gown of Queen Elizabeth I—including the undergarments. She researched every detail of the original garment, designed the patterns herself and even learned to solder so that she could craft a scepter and a crown. This project further inspired her to study and create a website dedicated to ball gowns.
Some other examples: building and learning to play a 36-string, concert-sized harp; constructing a one-person sailboat and taking it out on a local lake; tutoring a Russian immigrant in English language and culture; writing a libretto and score for a full-length rock opera; organizing a fundraising concert of local bands to benefit the homeless.
Twice a year students line the hallways to present their Challenge projects. Students share the drama of discovery with their classmates and teachers. The buzz of excitement is palpable as they chatter and laugh, sharing both the challenges and the rewards of each undertaking.
The Challenge Program embodies the spirit of a Seven Hills education. Sparked by curiosity, confidence, and the support of a highly stimulating educational community, students reach for new achievements, discover the thrill of mastery, and redefine their “comfort zone” to include new talents and interests.
Upper Personal Challenge Guidelines, Procedure & Timetable
  1. Student brainstorms ideas for a project with their academic advisor, teachers, friends, parents, etc.
  2. Student decides on a project and chooses a faculty member to be their Personal Challenge Advisor.
  3. Student downloads the Personal Challenge Contract here.
  4.  Student completes the contract including signatures from their academic advisor, Personal Challenge advisor, and a parent indicating their approval.
  5.  Student emails the completed contract to Mr. Francis and copies both their academic and Personal Challenge advisors.
  6.  Mr. Francis reviews the contract, and
    1. if the project is acceptable, Mr. Francis emails the student and the advisors with final approval, or
    2. if the project is not acceptable, Mr. Francis emails the student (and copies both advisors) and asks for modifications or for a meeting to discuss
  7.  The academic advisor should check in on progress at various stages.
  8.  Student completes the project.
  9.  Student informs Mr. Francis that he/she is ready to defend.
  10.  Mr. Francis assigns a third advisor for the defense committee.
  11.  Student sets up the defense with the three members of their defense committee: their academic advisor, their Personal     Challenge Advisor, and the third advisor assigned by Mr. Francis.
  12.  In preparation for the defense (see below), the student should reserve the Knust conference room (you can do this in the Upper School office with Ms. Hunnicutt), email their original contract to the members of their committee, and gather all necessary materials.
  13.  Student defends the project to their committee.
  14.  The committee determines whether the student has passed or not. The academic advisor emails Mr. Francis with the outcome of the defense and a feedback form.
  15.  Student shares their project with the Upper School community. Personal Challenge sharing takes place during the school day, once in the fall and once in the spring. 
Defense Guidelines
The student should:
  • dress up
  • schedule the defense in the Knust conference room
  • email the contract to committee
  • bring all materials to the defense that will be used at sharing
The committee should:
  • ask specific questions (that will be provided)
  • complete a feedback form (that will be provided)
  • explain to a student who does not pass, what is needed to pass
The academic advisor should email Mr. Francis with the completed feedback form.
  • Contracts are due by the end of sophomore year. Students must defend by the end of Junior year.
If students do not meet this timetable, they lose all free bells and senior privileges.
Personal Challenge Examples
  • Research historical period in order to design, build and create decorations for five different doll house rooms. 
  • Research Irish culture, learn art of Irish dancing and perform dance routine. 
  • Build a concert size 36-string harp, learn how to play, and demonstrate mastery. 
  • Learn art of calligraphy and make book of 20 original poems using four different calligraphic alphabets. 
  • Learn the practical skills of tiling; redo a floor. 
  • Complete a marathon after following an intensive personal training regimen. 
  • Learn the skill of kayaking and plan a trip with a daily distance goal and train for challenge. 
  • Write a two-act play, researching the time period; design a set and costumes; act out a scene. 
  • Learn sign language. 
  • Restore an old car. 
  • Conduct a sports clinic; design a training program tailored to your group. 
  • Create blueprints and small-scale model of a playhouse for local playground.
Hillside campus 5400 Red Bank Road Cincinnati, Ohio 45227 513.271.9027 Doherty campus 2726 Johnstone Place Cincinnatio, Ohio 45206