Senior projects prep students for their future

Our View
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Senior projects are a 20-year tradition that should continue helping students and the community for an additional 20 years and beyond. For the past two years, Placer Union High School District trustees have been asking themselves and the community how to best manage senior projects, which are currently a graduation requirement. There has been talk of restructuring the program and some support nixing the requirement altogether. School board members should stand behind the longtime program and keep it as a requirement. Project requirements introduce students to important life skills. For example, students must write a research paper which, for some is the first time they’ve written one, said senior project teacher Brittany Haydon. Students also must show how they organized their project, which focuses either on a career field of interest, community service or a project that helps them learn a new skill. Every spring, students gain public speaking experience when they present their project before a panel of judges comprised of community members. Projects also have other benefits for high school students and our community. Past projects have ranged from learning how to play the guitar or how to kickbox to organizing a concert to raise money for families dealing with terminal cancer. Last year Placer senior Kierstin Gray turned her love of protecting the environment into five different projects that included organizing a trash pick-up day under Pacific Bridge by Railhead Park, putting recycling bins on the school’s campus and participating in the American River cleanup. As students step out into the community and the competitive job market, it’s important that they have a strong accomplishment under their belt and have left a good imprint on the community that helped them grow. Students should take advantage of shadowing someone working in their career of choice, be it nursing, firefighting, computer graphics or to wherever they feel drawn. If they are ambivalent about their future, then they should look around Auburn and see who or what needs help. This fall, while it was not for a senior project, Placer High leadership students rallied to gather photos for families who lost their possessions and keepsakes in the 49 Fire. What other disadvantaged families out there might need a helping hand? Lately, praise has been given to the new Streetscape renovations in Downtown Auburn. What about other parts of town that could benefit from planter boxes and new benches? There are naysayers to senior projects, but we shouldn’t let kids take the path of least resistance so early in life because it doesn’t prepare them for the demands and expectations of the real world and a real job. If they are allowed to quit now, what’s going to stop them from quitting in the future? Jeff Tooker, assistant superintendent of educational services, said budget won’t play into the decision regarding senior projects. Let’s hope it doesn’t because senior projects are not about money. They are about preparing our kids for the future and helping them succeed in a world that is changing and becoming more challenging every day.