Senior projects benefit students, community

When I first heard about the senior projects that students in our community must complete before graduating, I was relieved that this was one hurdle that I did not have to cross when I was in high school.

As the school year winds to a close, seniors in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. are putting the finishing touches on their projects. Some students complete the requirements for their senior projects during the fall semester while others finish their work during the spring. Unless you attended high school here or know a student, you may not have heard of these projects. For many students and their parents, the projects can be a daunting task. They have been thinking about or planning for their projects since last summer.

Passion and interest drive students to their assignments. Teachers guide the students’ projects while community volunteers serve as mentors. The culmination of the project is a presentation to a panel of teachers and community volunteers. Last semester, I had the pleasure of serving as a panelist at Columbus North High School and listening to the details of finished projects. I was impressed with the students’ efforts and the altruistic nature of many of their projects.

In the process of learning something, students do a lot of good for our community. Students collect donations and food for Love Chapel. They play music for the elderly. Students also raise money and gather necessities for animal shelters. Other students work with disabled veterans or assemble packages of art and craft supplies for children in the hospital. They raise awareness and solicit donations to fight diseases.

Through the projects, seniors can really stretch beyond their comfort zone. If they choose to accept the challenge, they meet and help people that they would never had the chance to know before.

The process of completing a senior project is a different approach to learning. Students can showcase their technical, artistic or practical talents that may not be apparent in a traditional classroom setting. Whether it is fashion or woodworking, a senior project can be an opportunity for students to use their creative talents.

The work also requires students to build their soft skills while applying their practical knowledge. They have to focus on effective communication. During their presentation, students dress and act professionally. The projects require students to be organized, think strategically and plan ahead. Many times they have to raise money to buy the supplies necessary for their work. Throughout the process, students document their work, write a paper and complete a portfolio.

I think that the projects can build confidence. The completed project can give a student a sense of accomplishment. Students also realize the important and unique contributions they can make to our world. For some, it can be pretty emotional.

The completed projects certainly are not perfect. But over the course of my own education, I have learned more from a failure than a success.

Senior projects give students an opportunity to contemplate their career paths — perhaps they will consider pursuing more education. It is also possible that a project will inspire a life-long passion. While for some students the senior project is just another item on a laundry list of tasks to do during their senior year, for others, it is quite meaningful.

On second thought, I might have been better off if I had completed a senior project.

Aaron Miller is one of The Republic’s community columnists and all opinions expressed are those of the writer. He has a doctorate in history and is an associate professor of history at Ivy Tech Community College — Columbus. Send comments to editorial@therepublic.com.