Se­nior Boards Com­pleted, Stu­dents Eye Grad­u­a­tion

Riverbank News - - FRONT PAGE - BY VIR­GINIA STILL vstill@oak­dale­

Ev­ery school year se­niors at River­bank High School are tasked with the very ex­ten­sive, de­tailed as­sign­ment of com­plet­ing their se­nior pro­ject and then pre­sent­ing them to a group of judges for a final grade. This hur­dle was cleared by the Se­nior Class of 2016 last week.

There are many steps in com­plet­ing the se­nior pro­ject in­clud­ing se­lec­tion of a ca­reer, re­search, es­says, pic­tures, a Power Point pre­sen­ta­tion that is timed, and, new this year, job shad­ow­ing.

River­bank High has been do- ing se­nior projects since 2002 and at that time it was a grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ment. Now the pro­ject is a huge part of their English grade.

“It started when we had a pro­gram on cam­pus called Pro­ject River­bank, a school to work pro­gram,” said Se­nior English Teacher and AVID Dis­trict Di­rec­tor Nancy Gar­cia. “When the staff saw the ef­fect this ex­pe­ri­ence had on stu­dents they de­cided to go school wide with the pro­ject.

“Mr. Ge­orge Brown (prin­ci­pal) and Su­san Fen­ton (Se­nior English teacher) were the two

peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing it to our school.”

Job shad­ow­ing was added to the se­nior projects this year where stu­dents had to make con­tact with em­ploy­ers and job shadow for a to­tal of 10 hours. This seemed to be quite prob­lem­atic for some se­niors as the field they were cov­er­ing was con­fi­den­tial or the ‘shad­ow­ing’ just not al­lowed due to time or the work­load.

Ac­cord­ing to RHS Prin­ci­pal Sean Richey, the se­nior English teach­ers, the site lead­er­ship and through the WASC ac­cred­i­ta­tion process came to the con­clu­sion to add this to the se­nior projects this year.

“This ties in bet­ter with the new col­lege and ca­reer readi­ness stan­dards re­quired by the state,” added Gar­cia.

If the stu­dents were un­able to job shadow with their par­tic­u­lar ca­reer then staff as­sisted in al­ter­na­tive places so they could have the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I think the se­niors did a great job this year with their projects,” stated Prin­ci­pal Richey. “It isn’t easy to get up and speak in front of adults, let alone to­tal strangers in some cases.”

Stu­dents were able to dive into ca­reers that they may con­tinue pur­su­ing due to the re­search and se­nior pro­ject while some have changed course af­ter get­ting a glimpse into their po­ten­tial ca­reer.

Se­nior Jose Rosas did his se­nior pre­sen­ta­tion on Foren­sic Sci­ence which he plans to con­tinue to pur­sue.

Mitzi Manzo did her pre­sen­ta­tion on Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion and may look into a dif­fer­ent ca­reer.

Psy­chol­ogy has al­ways been an in­ter­est for Hec­tor Calderon and af­ter the pro­ject, he still plans to pur­sue it.

With the pro­ject be­ing a huge part of their English grade, se­niors start work­ing on it at the be­gin­ning of their se­nior year.

“If stu­dents don’t do the pro­ject they could risk not pass­ing their Se­nior English Class, a grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ment,” said Gar­cia.

“For that rea­son, the pro­ject is bro­ken down into eas­ily com­pleted pieces through­out the year,” said Richey. “If a stu­dent misses a few el­e­ments, it will af­fect their grade, but it will not be cat­a­strophic. How­ever, if a stu­dent does not com­plete the ma­jor­ity of the se­nior pro­ject el­e­ments, it is very dif­fi­cult for that stu­dent to pass.”

Richey com­pared the se­nior pro­ject to the equiv­a­lent of two ma­jor re­search papers that other high school se­niors are re­quired to com­plete for their English grade.

“The dif­fer­ence at RHS is that we add a pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tion and ask the stu­dents to fo­cus their re­search on a po­ten­tial ca­reer field so as to bet­ter pre­pare stu­dents for op­por­tu­ni­ties af­ter they grad­u­ate high school,” added Richey.

Some se­nior stu­dents go above and be­yond, cre­at­ing pam­phlets to hand out to the judges or book­marks, candy, and thank you notes.

Se­nior Martin Sveen did his se­nior pro­ject on be­ing a mu­sic teacher which would be right along the path of his pas­sion for mu­sic, how­ever, af­ter job shad­ow­ing a mu­sic teacher in another dis­trict he may be look­ing into a dif­fer­ent ca­reer.

“In re­search­ing, writ­ing, and pre­sent­ing their se­nior pro­ject, our stu­dents are re­quired to prac­tice and demon­strate a broad range of 21st cen­tury learn­ing skills,” ex­pressed Richey. “Stu­dents must be able to suc­cess­fully re­search a ca­reer field of their choice. They must com­mu­ni­cate in writ­ing, over the phone, and in per­son with a broad range of adults in a pro­fes­sional man­ner.”

Dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tors, com­mu­nity mem­bers, and others vol­un­teer to sit in a class­room and wit­ness each stu­dent’s hard work as it is pre­sented. The panel of judges will then grade each stu­dent in cer­tain cat­e­gories like pre­sen­ta­tion, or­ga­ni­za­tion, time­li­ness, and at­tire. Af­ter the stu­dents fin­ished their pre­sen­ta­tion, they re­sponded to ques­tions by the judges.

“For our stu­dents who are plan­ning to go into higher ed­u­ca­tion and/or the work­force, the se­nior pro­ject will stand as a salient ex­pe­ri­ence that they will draw lessons from as they move on to their next chal­lenges,” stated Richey. “I was im­pressed by the qual­ity of the pre­sen­ta­tions and the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the stu­dents who pre­sented.”


Show­ing a big smile af­ter com­ple­tion of his se­nior pro­ject pre­sen­ta­tion, Martin Sveen dressed the part, which was also part of the grade.


Se­nior Hec­tor Calderon is shown here pre­sent­ing his se­nior pro­ject, which was on Psy­chol­ogy, to a group of judges in­clud­ing teacher and coach Monte Wood last week.


Prac­tic­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion on Foren­sic Sci­ence in Mr. Galindo’s class was se­nior Jose Rosas, prior to the se­nior board pre­sen­ta­tion at River­bank High School.

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