From the paranormal activity found in ghost hunting to the creation of a detailed sword, Senior Capstone Projects prove to be fascinating as well as gratifying; preparations for presentations are under-way.
The process seniors go through must meet certain criteria.
“At the beginning of the year, students submit a proposal letter; it then goes to the committee for approval,” Mrs. Alison Bonham, English teacher, said. “After projects are approved, they get criteria as to what they need to accomplish with their Senior Project and information that they will need to learn. If they are creating a product, they have to spend 15 hours with their mentors and document the entire process. If they’re doing a job shadow, they have to spend 20 hours with their mentors and then interview their mentor and three other individuals in the office. If they have volunteer work, they have to spend 20 hours volunteering and go through interviews finding out about the charity and people they serve. After that, there are checkpoints throughout the year. In April, everything is due, and they put together their portfolio and PowerPoints and present to the class. In the third week in May, they present to the Boards.”
Senior Krista Robinson selected a paranormal project, investing hours in exploring abandoned areas.
“My project is ghost hunting, and it’s not like the movies,” Robinson said. “I go out to abandoned locations and spend one to four hours at each, depending on how good the activity is. If I catch a voice on my recorder, I mark it and trace back the individual who said it. Once, I got a little girl who said, ‘mommy,’ which is what I’m presenting on. We use a spirit box, which gives more energy to a spirit or ghost to use as a gateway, and we place our hands over the speaker to ask a question, and lift our hands when we are done speaking. We ask questions like, ‘Who’s there?’ ‘How old are you?’ and ‘How did you pass?”
Senior Caleb Miller created unique pieces with his mentor.
“My project is blacksmithing, and what I did was forge different pieces of metal, such as a knife, a sword, hooks and other miscellaneous tools,” Miller said. “I had two good friends do the same project a few years before me, and it interested me because I enjoy the idea of taking regular things and turning them into a unique piece of art.”
Senior Capstone Projects result in not only great experiences but new-found skills as well as exposure to unique opportunities.
“The purpose is for students to explore other learning opportunities, to teach them problem-solving and networking skills, and budgeting their time while putting together a project,” Mrs. Bonham said. “If a student chooses a project where they have real interest, then it’s beneficial. We have as many kids who go do job shadows and learn that that’s not a career they want, as we do kids who find out it is a career that they want. We also have students who pick a project because they think it’s going to be easy, or they know someone related to the project; those are the projects that aren’t very beneficial. It really is on the student. It shows them how to present themselves as individuals in the workforce and I think they have a great sense of pride and accomplishment.”
Miller’s project has resulted in hours of meticulous work with and without his mentor.
“Considering that I was doing a very complex project, it took close to 20 hours for me to work with my mentor because of all the detailed work that had to be done on the pieces,” Miller said. “The amount of hours I will spend on my project without my mentor will be somewhere around 15 hours, if I had to guess. Between writing journals, essays, organizing all paperwork, putting together my portfolio and PowerPoint presentation, and doing small work on my presentation.”
Robinson feels ready to present as she is accustomed to the skepticism people show towards her project.
“My project took nearly three months, maybe four, so I honestly feel relaxed to present,” Robinson said. “I’m used to people being skeptical, so I try to maneuver around that and give them a little taste of what ghost hunting is about.”
Miller advises incoming students to stay organized throughout the tedious process.
“Stay on top of due dates and keep track of what you need to turn in and when. That will help a lot with organization,” Miller said.
Senior Sarah Elliot, who was part of the Honors course that presented in December, advises students to choose topics that interest them.
“My advice would be to know your presentation very well and to choose something you’re interested in,” Elliot said. “This way, when you present about it, the judges can tell that you’re interested. I thought my presentation went well, even though I’m not usually a good presenter. It was less stressful because, for the main presentation, it wasn’t in front of the class, it was in front of 5 judges. The Senior Capstone Project seems like a lot of work, but when you start doing it, it’s not that hard. It seems daunting, but it’s not really.”