The Class of 2021 Publishes The Portrait Project


Michelle Lee, Co-Editor-in-Chief

This January, The Class of 2021’s Class Office launched its long-awaited Portrait Project. Inspired by the Harvard Business School’s original idea, the project asks students to respond to the question “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” taken from the lines of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day.” Out of all the submitted pieces, 30 students’ submissions were chosen to be published on the official Portrait Project website

Next to each piece is a portrait photo of each writer photographed by Maia Dimant (’21). “In the fall, I saw a post in the Class of 2021 Facebook group asking for a volunteer photographer,” Dimant said. “I scrolled past that post four or five more times until curiosity got the better of me and I wrote to Michelle. She told me the project involved taking portraits, and I got excited right away. The timing was perfect because I had been looking to work more on my portraiture. Plus, it’s my senior year, and I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to get to know some of my classmates a tiny bit more.” On the process of preparing the shoots, Dimant stated that their goal from the beginning of the project was to make these portraits stand out by leaving the choice of setting, lighting, and outfit, as well as the final choice of photo, up to each individual student. “The confidence and comfort, as well as the wide range of settings achieved by this approach, are evident in the photos, which makes me really happy. I’m grateful for this opportunity and will remember it as a seminal part of my high school experience.”

Rebecca Parish (’21), writer for the Portrait Project and President of the 2021 Class Office, expressed her excitement to launch the project as a way to give her classmates an opportunity to reflect on what they value for the future. “I think what is really cool about this project is that we didn’t release the portrait website for almost a year so students were able to see where they were when they wrote it compared to how they are now,” Parish said. “It’s nice to look back and see if your future ideas have changed, especially after COVID, college applications and decisions, and so many more unknowns.”

Upon the release of the Portrait Project, the response from the Tenafly community has been very positive. Comments from various parents and guardians in Facebook groups include “Beautiful!” and “This is a spectacular project. Thank you for sharing!!” The Portrait Project will surely be a gift for the Class of 2021 to look back on, especially during this abnormal senior year. Click here to visit the Portrait Project’s official website.