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Editorial: Senior projects make difference, beneficial for community

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Columbus East student Mitch Tabler lost one of his friends last August when a night of partying and drinking cost Brett Finbloom his life.

Finbloom, an 18-year-old graduate of Carmel High School, was days away from leaving for the University of Oklahoma. The parties that August night were to say goodbye temporarily to friends.

However, he passed out from consuming too much alcohol. Finbloom never regained consciousness and died two days later.

Friends who were with him at the party hesitated to call police for help because they were afraid of getting into trouble and waited 30 to 45 minutes before seeking assistance. They were unaware of a law passed one month earlier that protected minors from being charged with underage drinking if they call for help.

Whether calling for help earlier would have saved Finbloom’s life is unclear.

But it was clear to Tabler that he needed to do something after the death of his former soccer travel teammate.

So, for his senior project he organized a free, two-hour presentation at YES Cinema in Columbus called “Get the Word Out.” He wanted to spread the message of the importance of calling for help when someone drinks too much. Tabler enlisted the help of his deceased friend’s father, Norman Finbloom of Carmel, to speak to the audience.

More than 75 people attended the March 11 event, including parents and teenagers. That’s a good start for getting the word out. Hopefully those who attended shared the important message with others, making a larger impact.

That’s because human life is valuable and fragile. It’s important to help people who are in trouble.

Also of value are the senior projects, especially because of the community service component.

The projects push students to research a topic, and they have to write a paper. But more importantly, they have to apply the project to the real world and sometimes they have significant impact.

A good example of this was in June 2011, when Columbus East junior Taylor Chitty was struck by a vehicle at the crosswalk at Columbus East, which links the main campus with its outdoor athletic facilities at Clifty Park. After spending several months recuperating from her injuries, she created a safety video as her senior class project.

Her project was the impetus for the installation of six flashing yellow strobe lights at five locations in the city, to offer more protection for students walking to school, as well as other pedestrians.

We applaud the value and impact of senior projects across Columbus and recognize the difference they can make.

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