Columbus East and North high schools wisely required senior projects for students starting in the early 2000s. Columbus Signature Academy-
New Tech High School smartly made it a requirement later, after opening.
As a result, students have gained knowledge and skills that have benefited them long after graduation, and the community has received valuable help through fundraisers and improvement projects.
Of course, some students haven’t been thrilled about doing senior projects, and some parents have written and sent letters to the editor expressing concerns or objections. A student in Washington state even completed a senior project on ending senior projects, arguing that they were a waste of class time and money.
We respectfully disagree.
Senior project requirements include a proposal, a research paper, a project, a portfolio and a presentation. Senior projects stretch students by making them think analytically, organize their time and communicate with others. All of those are life skills that are helpful in jobs or even when volunteering with organizations.
Learning for students extends beyond the classroom, which is why the project is a valuable aspect of the requirement. North requires the projects to benefit the community in some way; East doesn’t make that mandatory, although about one-third are community-oriented each year, while the rest have a career focus or personal interest. Students become aware of their larger surroundings and what is in their community through these projects.
The greater benefit of the projects is how they can help the Columbus community. For example, one student’s senior project has become the largest annual fundraiser for Turning Point Domestic Violence Services: The Dance Marathon. Another sold ornaments and raised $10,000 so Access-Ability, a local nonprofit that loans medical equipment to those in need, could buy durable equipment.
Senior projects are a win-win for students and the community. Students showcase all of their skills to write papers, complete projects and present them, and often the community benefits — sometimes in a lasting way.
That’s anything but a waste of time and money.