Members of the Class of 2022 are spending their final three weeks of high school engaged in Senior Projects. These immersive learning experiences range from full internships to explorations of personal interests. With the goal of solidifying the independent living and learning with our graduating seniors, Senior Project challenges students to propose their own course of study, manage their time effectively, and learn new skills along the way.
No two projects are the same, and that which students are learning vary as much as their interests and commitment to the project. Check out a link to all of our Senior Project blogs and read brief reflections from a few of our seniors below!
Matthew ‘22 - Forest Ecology Research Design
This senior project feels like the capstone of my senior year. The practical knowledge of our methods and means to gather data is something that I’ve learned during Research Crew (check out Brian’s blog post) and as a part of FERn (Forest Ecology Research desigN). When it comes to writing, the precision and attention to detail of AP Computer Science and the papers of FERn let me define and specify, while Composition had me practice the structure and clarity required to not lose my voice in those details. In Learning Skills, I learned how to work with, instead of against, my neurodivergence, to trust myself with key items but not with anything replaceable or unimportant. I created a spreadsheet to track my hours, something I would have never done a year ago!
I’m really enjoying spending all day in the woods. Turns out “taking a stupid walk for your stupid mental health” (to quote Hank Green) works. It’s been fun, and bird calls at 6 am seem to be my sleeper agent morning person activation code, as long as I have caffeine. I finished the reference flagging on the entirety of the plot grid, and I’ve started on data on the sites surrounding Mud Pond. I’ve explained what the research grid is all about to the entire school, and (somehow) made data (somewhat) interesting.
Dylan ‘22 | Study on Sexual Minorities and Community
I always shudder to think that a week has passed and the work done seems far from the complexity and perfection I envisioned at the time. Of course, I had to remind myself that I am only a high school student, and that I need not be overly ambitious. Some of the content--such as the methods and theories of statistics--was far beyond the depth and basic level required in high school, while others needed extensive literature reading and search skills. I eventually decided to cut out some of the reliability and validity tests, because even if I could do the "analysis" in a step-by-step manner as described in the book or guide, I would have learned no knowledge or understanding of the principles behind it, and a complete set of such analyses would not be necessary in light of the time constraints.
It is nice to see what I have attained: a better knowledge of SPSS and other software, as well as an understanding of some of the algorithms behind them, as opposed to having a totally misguided view of surveys. It was surprising to learn that the seemingly casual and commonplace tool entailed so much science behind the scenes, especially when it came to developing rigorous psychological scales. I am always amazed by the incredible results of human creativity and rigor when I see all the complex and diverse new theories and studies that are developed almost every month.
In spite of this, science and theories are not the only thing that matters, but rather the information they provide and the questions they can answer. The question is where do we get confused and why do we need questionnaires to provide us with those answers? Well, we have little insight into the overall mental health of our students. And what are the demographic distributions of sexual minorities and their relationships to campus climate and mental well-being? Designing and analyzing this aspect of the questionnaire data was an opportunity to get a glimpse, as CT does, of some multidimensional, contemporaneous information that can be compared to subsequent changes. There is no other objective way for students to actively express their feelings and for an entire community to hear them - not individually, but as a whole. One of the means by which we can identify problems, recognize them, and begin to improve them is by giving everyone the opportunity to actively communicate such feelings, which are usually on the private side and are sometimes reluctant to reveal and respond.
Let each person's voice be heard.
River | A Return to Costa Rica
Today was another successful day at work. Patrick and I spent the entire time at the Monteverde Institute. We spent the day working with Wyatt and Alida filling bags of dirt that would become homes for the saplings as well as moving full-grown saplings from the greenhouse out into the sun. It is amazing to see the number of trees that are present in the Institute and how they are grown on such an immense scale. The bag packing turned out to be a little more difficult than originally expected, but after a bit of practice, we began to get the hang of it.
After work, we had a great time meeting up with the group of Proctor students studying in Monteverde. It was great to see them and hear about some of their experiences. We also got the chance to see Kathia, our coordinator when we were on the Costa Rica trip, and her sons, Ernest and Celimo. It was so nice to see them after two years and it reminded me of the close friendships I had made during my previous time in Monteverde. There is a special community here unlike anywhere else I have been. Going for a run yesterday, I was amazed at the number of people who would smile and wave at me. In no time at all, you begin to form friendships with others in the community. I am so glad we have a good amount of time left here, but I know it will fly by quickly…
It was an early morning with the alarm clock going off at 4:50 am. Duffy and I quickly ate cereal and packed a couple of sandwiches for the road. We swung by Alida and Wyatt's place to pick them up and then headed to the institute. We all rolled out of Monteverde at 6:00 am in a big, 1980s Toyota Land Cruiser. We headed out for Tronadora, a small town about an hour and a half away. The drive down there was pretty silent as everyone was very tired. Upon arriving, an entire team of about 12 of us spent the next few hours loading 5,000 saplings into the back of an immense truck. The tree nursery where we were picking up the plants is funded by an organization named The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE). ICE is a government-run electricity and telecommunications provider that oversees all of the renewable energy resources programs in Costa Rica. The nursery where we picked up the trees currently had over half a million trees that were scheduled to be distributed this year. Our order of 5,000 healthy trees, some of which had been growing for up to eight years, cost the Monteverde Institute absolutely nothing to purchase. Furthermore, the Monteverde Institute distributes those trees throughout the community for free. All of this is made possible through government funding and volunteer work. I feel super fortunate to get a first-hand, behind-the-scenes look at how the operation of taking a tree from the seed to full-grown can be executed at absolutely no cost to the customer. Not to suggest this process is cheap, but I do believe that it could be beneficial for other countries to take note of Costa Rica's environmental action toward a more sustainable future.
Ang ‘22 | Ocean Classroom Continued
So far I’ve really enjoyed my project and working on the boat. This project is up my alley so I knew from the start that I would enjoy anything I’m asked to do! When it comes to living and working on boats I’m pretty open minded about trying new tasks since there is so much for me to learn! Having the ability to be on the boat as part of the crew has given me a whole new perspective compared to when I was on Ocean Classroom as a student. This was one thing that was different for me as I transitioned onto the boat. At first I didn’t think this shift would be noticeable, but for me it felt weird being the person students come to when they have questions or explaining certain things. Although I still consider myself a student since I am constantly learning from my crew this was one aspect that surprised me. With a good size crew that varies in all ages I have realized that everyone is eager to learn. Whether you're in your early twenties or sixties, the environment on tall ships encourages learning for everyone aboard and this makes the experience so much more valuable. It's something that I forgot about after Ocean Classroom, but now cherish so much during my senior project.
Jake Alison ‘22 | Woodworking
This week has been really amazing. Not only have I learned countless things about woodworking and boat building, but I have made huge progress on my project and been loving to work on it! At this point, I have mostly completed work on my gunwales. All I need to do is varnish them. I have fully repaired the hull and just need to do a small amount of sanding, then give it a new coat of paint. On the oars, I am just about halfway through my first set. Greg suggested that I do one set at a time just in case I run out of time, just so I can have at least one pair of finished oars but I don’t think that will be an issue. I have cut, processed, and glued two oars already and all I need to do now is grind them into shape and varnish (maybe fiberglass) them.
This week I learned a lot about how to use epoxy. You might think that there is a set way to do everything but, as I’ve learned, most often when adding thickener to fill a hole or something, the best description for how much thickener to add is, “till it’s the consistency of mustard”. Who knows the consistency of mustard off the top of their head? Anyway, I've also gotten a lot better at sanding and processing wood. Sanding because I do it for at least an hour or two every day, and processing wood because Greg has been helping me to develop a better feel for the wood and what needs to be done to get it into the form I need.
Katharine ‘22 | Probation Officer Internship
Today, Tuesday, May 10th, I stepped into the Jefferson County Remington building, for my first day. It was 7:30 A.M. and although I was tired, I had no problem being able to feel awake, as I was excited and intrigued to see what my days would consist of. I am currently interning with a probation officer, but within my first hour, I would be introduced and learning about all branches. At around 9:25, Officer Jimenez and I went on to Webex, and I sat in on two court hearings with Human Services.
One was a woman and mother who has struggled with domestic violence and drug abuse. Due to her addiction and unsustainable living environment and partner at the time, three of her children have been taken. However, through inpatient treatment, rehab, and self reflection, she has proven to be fit enough to keep her baby. This call served as a check-in, as well as offering more structure to guide her off of probation.
The second call was a Family Engagement Meeting to monitor another woman and mother, who struggled with heavy alcohol and cocaine abuse. Her children were taken, and she is currently living in a house. She has been working to get her three children back, however, has been struggling with relapsing. This call was served as a call to review treatment plan and progress for the Family Integrated Court Team (FIT).
Afterwards, I sat in on an hour long webinar covered by Dr. Ashley Haynes, "Novel Psychoactive Substances." In this webinar, I learned about: demographics of drug use, online drug codes, NBOMe 2c (the backbone for opioids), MDMA, Synthetic Cannabinoid, relationships between Psychosis, Schizophrenia, and Bipolar disorder, results in with-drawls from synthetic drugs, the rise of Acetylfentanyl and Metonzitazene, as well as the five-step forecast to drugs on the rise including availability, costs, price and subjective experience, dependance potential, and ease of acquisition.
Overall, it was a very busy and interesting first day. I am quite exhausted, but I am so excited for what these next weeks will bring for me. I have been fascinated with the world of criminal justice and psychology for a very long time, so being able to see in real time how these cases get handled instead of how it is portrayed in Criminal Minds or Law & order was very good for me to see.