Quincy High School seniors
A Plumas Unified graduation requirement and an unparalleled opportunity to explore or redefine a potential career path- the senior project- is the quintessential culminating project of students’ 13 years of education. It gives seniors the opportunity and motivation to pursue and explore their passions, define future careers or interests, and polish and expand skills needed for college and employment. While it is a substantial amount of work and many students are relieved when it is all over, the opportunity the senior project provides to propel students outside of their comfort zones and build their confidence and capabilities is well worth the work. While the class of 2017 is pleased to be at the finish line, many admitted the project taught them more than expected. As they move into the next phase of their lives, with only more pressing deadlines and responsibilities, the hope is that this project is a springboard to prepare them for the real world.
The senior project consists of six major components: the project, the paper, the pictographic, the portfolio, the presentation, and personal finance. The project is the core of the senior project experience. It is one of the only opportunities students have to truly do whatever they want, with the parameters that it must be something that will stretch their potential and challenge their abilities. The goal is to expand students’ confidence collaborating with others, while building new relationships with their mentors and themselves. The projects seniors choose can be something they have never done or experienced before, but always wanted to do or know. Alternatively, they can choose something they do know or can do, but want to take to a new and challenging level.
In order to complete the senior project, students must log and document a minimum of 21 hours. Five of these hours must be spent with a mentor (15 hours with Law and Medical industries) who guides and teaches them through the process. Mentors come from all over Plumas County and are a crucial part of the students’ success. Additionally, at least another four hours must be spent with a job shadow, which includes a one hour interview and three hours observing and documenting on the job responsibilities and tasks. Together, this is a minimum of 25 hours spent on the project, although many seniors spend several more hours.
Theresa Miller Chester High senior
This year, as with every other year, projects cover a wide variety of topics. These include: culinary, health/medical field, mechanics, art, music, bullying prevention and peer mentoring, youth and sports camps, software and website engineering, photography and videography, journalism, drug awareness, veterinary, CHP, police force, Fish and Game Warden, firefighting, EMT, restoration, construction, and more.
For some students, the project solidified what they already knew they loved or wanted to pursue. For others, it helped them realize a specific field of work wasn’t a good fit. While this realization may not have been as satisfying, this insight has the potential to save these students a lot of time and money from following a career path that they ultimately would not enjoy. This was the case for Mallory Wilson a Portola High School student, who did her project on high school education. She helped teach an Honors English class in Loyalton. While the experience was positive and taught her time management, organization, and people skills, she explained, “I realized I don't have the personality or patience to be a teacher”. She relayed that she found herself getting too frustrated and that it was a lot more work than anticipated. On the other hand, Ema Dean Kenyon, a Chester High School senior, had the opposite experience. Kenyon did her project on early childhood education and came to realize she liked working with kids a lot more than she thought. She admitted, “Before the project, I was actually terrified of kids, but after working with my mentor Kellie Bainbridge, a kindergarten teacher at Chester Elementary, I came to enjoy engaging little kids and helping them learn”.
Ema Dean Kenyon CHS senior
Several other students decided to use the senior project to improve their construction and mechanical trade skills to restore or create something they can now put to use! Ty Cherry a senior at Greenville High School spent the year repairing and restoring a 1989 Dodge diesel truck with 800,000 miles on it. He revealed, “It took me seven months and a whole lot of time, but now it’s my daily driver. It was a huge learning experience and I'm grateful I had the privilege to do it”.
Ty Cherry GHS senior with restored 1989 Dodge
Justin Sage from Quincy High School decided to create new soccer benches for the future QHS soccer players to sit on during games. He shared, “I played soccer all four years of high school and later as I was sitting on the benches, I just realized how destroyed they were. Our team has been quality for so long, they deserve more than that. I’d rather my friends sit on quality benches”.
Justin Sage QHS senior
Ashley Carnes, a senior at PHS, chose to embark on a novelty senior project by building her own tiny house to take to college. In addition to now having a fully functioning and furnished, eco-friendly, tiny house to live in, Ashley has decided to pursue a degree in architecture since finishing her senior project. Previously she wanted to be a veterinarian.
Ashley Carnes PHS senior in front of her tiny house
All these experiences are just a few of the examples of the possibilities, lessons, and outcomes of the senior projects. The projects culminate with a final paper and a 15-minute presentation to four different judges. The presentations took place on the following dates: Portola High School May 23rd, Chester High School May 24th, Quincy High School May 26th, and Greenville High School June 6th.
All Business and Finance teachers relayed how proud they are of their seniors. Gina Pixler, the Chester High School Business and Finance teacher shared, “I’m just so happy with all of them and their hard work, I have seen their confidence grow tremendously over the course of the year”. She went on to state, “Students leave their senior year knowing they are in control of their destiny, and that life will be more enjoyable if they are doing what they love to do and making money doing it. And most importantly they learn how to spend money on what they need as opposed to what they want, in order to reach their SMART goals”.
Terrie Redkey, the Quincy High School Business and Finance teacher remarked, “No matter how resistant students are about the senior project at the beginning of the year, they are extremely proud of their accomplishments at the end of the process. Each senior realizes their personal growth, new skills acquired, and most notably, they learn that they can be successful and competent in the business world. This experience adds a level of confidence which cannot be learned by sitting in a classroom. They will take this with them as they move forward in life, giving them the courage to walk through new doors of opportunity”.
Plumas Unified would like to extend a huge thank you to the many community members who volunteered their time and expertise to support and encourage this year’s seniors. This includes over 100 mentors and job shadow professionals who stepped forward to make the senior projects meaningful and successful. Also, gratitude to the businesses throughout the district who donated time and materials, and the community members who volunteered their time to judge the presentations. This support is truly evidence of our communities’ gracious willingness to make a positive difference in every senior’s life.
As the senior projects end and the seniors prepare to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas on June 9th, this time of year marks an incredible milestone. Thirteen years of education culminating in one big moment. Plumas Unified and County Office of Education extend congratulations for the hard work and dedication that it's taken each student to reach this juncture. Best wishes for the many adventures and successes in every graduate's future. As the saying goes, the ‘world is your oyster’, go boldly and brightly.
As the 2016/17 year comes to a close, the #EducationMatters section will take a pause over the summer. Articles will start back up again when school starts at the end of August. Have a wonderful summer everyone!!
Jackson Marquette PHS senior