Portfolio panache

School project allows seniors to reflect on who they’ve become by giving them the chance to get published.

June 03, 2009|By Joyce Rudolph

John Burroughs High School seniors can now say they are published authors, following a senior project assigned by their English teacher.

It’s a challenge to keep seniors focused in the final months of their senior year, so teacher Rex Bullington came up with the idea for the book project.

“I wanted to create something that was a little more interesting to them,” he said. “The common thread for them in English this year was self-realization, and ‘who am I’ became their theme for the year.”


The senior year curriculum called for the students to read specific novels in addition to exercises in poetry, reflective writing and essays, he added.

“We kept a portfolio of their writing throughout the year, and from that portfolio, they took the pieces out to be used in the books that they created,” Bullington said. “The goal with the books was for them to create a literary time capsule of who they are as a senior in high school.”

The book project was the first of its kind in the district, Bullington said.

In addition to his own personal fundraising efforts, Bullington secured a grant from the Burbank Arts in Education Foundation, and received a donation from the publishing company, Blurb. There was no cost to the students.

Members of the foundation especially liked that the project used a core subject combined with the arts, said Peggy Flynn, a board advisor and arts coordinator for the Burbank Unified School District.

“The foundation was impressed with the caliber of the work that the students were putting into it,” Flynn said. “We thought it was an excellent example of how the arts are woven throughout all curriculum.”

The students filled their pages with drawings, photographs, poems and stories using a book publishing software program, Bullington said. The ratio was 16 pages of writing to 16 pages of images. A professional company published the four-color books, which feature slick covers designed by the students.

“I had 111 students who completed the project,” he said. “Of those 111, I believe 86 of them were sent away for publication.”

The biggest surprise for Bullington was to see the artistic talents of his students, which he rarely has the opportunity to see, he said.

Burbank Leader Articles Burbank Leader Articles