Senior projects cap learning experience at Andes Central School

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By John Bernhardt
“Whatever you do, keep this project going,” Bill Piervincenzi advised Andes Central School personnel after evaluating Senior Projects. Piervincenzi, a retired college professor and former ACS School Board member, spent two days last week as part of a judging panel observing and evaluating the Andes seniors’ presentations. Piervincenzi was impressed with the knowledge and confidence the students displayed in making their presentations.
“Accolades, too, to Kathy Whittaker,” addded Piervincenzi. “She covered all the bases in preparing her students and the judges to take part in this project.” In fact, the Andes Senior Project is Whittaker’s baby. Two springs ago, Whittaker sought permission to attend a week-long conference in South Carolina sponsored by the National Senior Project Association. After being trained, Whittaker introduced the project to Andes Seniors last year.
The Senior Project is a culminating activity, the capstone event of a graduating senior’s academic career. The project provides seniors a final opportunity to demonstrate what they know and showcase their talents and abilities.
Academic skills are the central focus of the Senior Project. Selecting topics of their own, seniors receive extended opportunities to access information, set goals, organize a work plan, manage their time reaching those goals, and, of course, solve problems. The project is an integrated English language arts effort, a real world application of challenges the seniors are likely to face in college or completing work related proposals.
Whittaker explains that Four P’s govern the yearlong effort of the seniors. Students select a topic and complete a major research paper that is evaluated by community graders, using the counsel and advice of a mentor, the seniors design a product or service emphasizing some facet of their research, complete a portfolio highlighting work products and reflections at every level of the project, and conduct a public presentation for a panel of community judges.
Piervincenzi was joined on the judging panel by CP Kramarsky, a local interior designer, and Wendy Buerge, the Grants Manager of the
M-ARK Project.
“I’m really pleased with the work of this year’s seniors,” Whittaker praised. “Last year was our first for the Senior Project, and we experienced the bumps and bruises that come with introducing new initiatives. But, this year’s group of seniors really went to work on their projects. They chose diverse topics and used varied presentation methods for the judges.”
Whittaker says a good sign the project is taking hold at Andes is the fact that underclassmen are beginning to share ideas they would like to pursue when they are seniors. The Andes business teacher is looking for volunteers who would like to lend a hand with the effort next year; working as a grader providing feedback to the research papers, mentoring student product design and construction or serving on the judging panel. Anyone interested can contact Whittaker by calling Andes Central School at 676-3166.
Andes Senior Project Topics: Robin Armstrong, Nuclear Radiation and Its Aftereffects; Carrianne Fairbairn, The Psychology of Dreams; Brittney McAdams, Making a Movie; Taylor Murray, Technology of the 100 Year War; Tex Murray, Underwater Photography; Anthony Mincarelli, Medieval Combat; Clint Peterson, Catering; Tadeo Stong, The Disillusionment of the Handicapped and Cheyenne Tait, Reproductive Problems in Dairy Cattle.

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