As Novato High seniors continue their final semester of high school, one of the main focuses is their senior projects. This is a major assignment, where students take their interests and turn them into projects that they work on over the course of 5 months. While some students gain a lot of experience and enjoy the project, others may find it pointless and too time consuming.
For the many students who complain about not having enough freedom, this project provides a great opportunity to tap into desirable real-world skills. Although some students view it as a burden or don’t take it seriously, it marks a time of creativity and growth for a lot of seniors.
The senior project was started 12 years ago and has managed to continue throughout the pandemic. Head of the senior project committee and English teacher at Novato High Kathryn Korff shared some information on the project.
“The goal of the senior project is to give seniors a chance to demonstrate some of the best real-world skills gained in high school: being a learner and long-term planning,” Korff explained. “The students can pick almost anything to do from learning a new skill like cutting hair, learning woodworking through building a bench, challenging themselves to run a marathon or take an artistic skill to the size of a mural on a downtown building. It gives students a chance to tackle a big project and work on it outside of class. Then the seniors present their projects in May to community member judges to gain public speaking skills and have a feeling of accomplishment.”
Mr. Taber, an English teacher at Novato High and one of the teachers who assigns the projects, shared how students can be motivated to do the project.
“If you can find some way to have a community aspect that you care about, all of a sudden the senior project becomes super easy,” Taber said. “The only thing I don’t like about senior projects is that English teachers have to be in charge of it. I don’t want to be in charge of this. I want to teach my English class, but if the choice is us in charge or no senior project, I’d keep the senior project.”
Most students attempt to choose a project idea that they are interested in and feel good about. Students thrive if their project is achieved for a good reason or cause.
Novato High senior Jayden Korinzer discussed her view of the project.
“For my senior project, I am making a guided self-help journal for mental health, suicide awareness and donating them to the San Jose Middle School library. I like my project because it’s going to a good cause,” she said.
Though most students like their projects and are motivated to complete it, others have a different opinion of it and view it as an overly time-consuming assignment.
Novato High senior and captain of the basketball team Brandon Flick described his project.
“My project is learning how to cook meals with limited supplies so when I’m on my own with very little, I’ll be able to sustain myself,” he said. “I don’t like my senior project because of the amount of time and money I have to invest in it. I’m busy with basketball and when the season is over I’m going to be working a lot so the project will take up all my extra time.”
Another senior, Cole Morris shared why he wanted to do his project.
“For my project I am going backpacking for three days,” he said. “I wanted to do this because backpacking is something that I have always wanted to do and I like to see new places and experience new things and I feel that learning to backpack will do that for me. I don’t know where I’m going yet and haven’t made a packing list but my plan is to train by going on hikes around Novato and track them. I’ll also go camping and make my own food so that I am prepared for my trip.”
For some students, the senior project isn’t even a school project. To them, it’s an excuse to do something that they are passionate about.
“I’m writing a book for my senior project because I’ve been passionate about writing for a really long time,” said senior Maggie Childers. “I think although I obviously don’t have time to make my project into a publishable book because of the time constraints, I also know that the purpose of the senior project is not to create perfect products, but to diversify your craft. I believe the senior project isn’t as smoothly translated for science or math-minded people as those interested in arts and humanities, so I’m lucky to be able to be interested in that field. I also feel held back by a lack of budget and excitement around senior projects by teachers.”
Regardless of whether seniors enjoy doing the senior project or not, there’s no doubt they’re spending a lot of time on them and can hopefully be proud of what they accomplish.