One Last Thing Before You Go: The Exit Interview

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UHS Grads
Chelsea Winters answers questions before a panel of educators during her senior exit interview at Umatilla High School. All seniors must complete the interview before graduating.
PHOTOS BY JENNIFER COLTON

[quote style=”2″]UHS Conducts Exit Interviews with Graduating Seniors[/quote]

When Umatilla High School students face panels for job and college interviews this summer, they might already have a leg up on the competition. Every senior must complete an exit interview before graduation.

The senior interview is part of Umatilla High School’s continued work with career education. Principal Scott DePew said the school began blending career requirements into language arts and “Success 101” classes. For many years, the school had required students to do a senior presentation at the end of the year, but as students became more exposed to career and life options, officials began discussing moving away from the presentations and into the career exploration process.

“While our kids were very impressive with their presentations, we left the presentations often wanting more,” DePew said. “The senior exit interviews give us an opportunity to ask more detailed questions, gather information about their next steps, and get data on how we are doing as a school to meet their needs.”

Questions this year included where students see themselves in five years, what they would like to change about Umatilla High School and what class they considered most beneficial. The interview caps each senior’s graduation portfolio, which also includes career exploration experiences, resume building and life skills.

In the weeks leading up to Saturday’s graduation, seniors lined the hallways waiting for their scheduled interview times. After completing the interview, most said they were relieved the interview wasn’t as bad as their anticipation of the interview.

“I was mostly nervous about this interview and how it was going to go. Now it’s just finals I have to worry about,” Marcos Mendoza said.

UHS Interview
Anay Mendoza tries to match preserved samples to identification cards during her senior exit interview at Umatilla High School. It turns out, the science assignment was a practical joke by her teachers.
When asked the best thing about Umatilla High School, most students gave the same answer: the teachers.

For Anay Mendoza, that fellowship did come with a catch. Her interview panel – including principal DePew – opted to play a practical joke on the student by telling her it was required she identity preserved specimens and match them to flash cards within a five-minute time period. The educators, unable to keep straight faces, soon admitted the joke.

“Oh, good. I wasn’t prepared for this,” she said with a laugh. “I should have known.”

Despite some light-hearted ribbing from the teachers and administrators, most seniors called the exit interview a non-stressful way to make sure students are prepared for life after high school.

“I had three of my favorite teachers. We had a couple laughs and it was just a conversation,” said Anabel Moreno-Mendez. “The teachers care about us. They will go out of their way to make sure we will succeed, and this is something they do to make sure we’re going to be OK after high school. It reflects how much they really do care.”