With graduation looming, Long County High School seniors faced what many believed was their final hurdle: senior project presentations.
Senior project is a year-long, student-chosen project that allows students to learn about a career, hobby or community-service project. Each student must complete a portfolio and research paper, work with a mentor who is an expert in the area of study, create a product that demonstrates what was learned and present the project before a panel of judges, comprised of teachers and 23 volunteers from the community.
Over five evenings, 108 LCHS seniors presented what they learned through the program to the panel. Projects included accounting, baking, law enforcement, nursing, quilting, running a business, taxidermy and welding.
However, the real learning involved more than the topic itself.
“Senior project teaches students so much more than how to read, write, and speak about a topic,” LCHS English teacher Amanda Crews said. “They learn how to be self-directed learners, how to set goals and work to accomplish them, how to be flexible, responsible, patient and professional, which are all skills they will need as they face the real world beyond high school.”
Despite initial complaints, many seniors acknowledged that they were grateful for the experience.
“Doing the senior project was one of the best experiences I had my senior year, especially because I learned something I enjoyed,” said senior Ruth Francis, who learned sign language.
Other seniors recognized the value of choosing their own topic and guiding their own learning.
“Students may not realize the lessons being taught with the senior project, but it’s teaching us about time management and responsibility,” said senior Brandon Shaw, who studied animal cruelty.
“As students presented their senior projects, I really noticed the passion that many of them had for their topic or area of research,” Senior English teacher Samantha Stanley said. “Some students who didn’t perform well in the classroom did a fantastic job with their projects — all because they were passionate about what they were doing.”
The success of the project was a team effort on the part of the seniors, the school and the community.
“We are extremely grateful to the mentors who helped the seniors through the process and to our volunteer judges from the community,” Crews said. “Without their help, our students would not have gained so much from this process.”