Above is a wordle of all the topics people are covering for their senior independent projects. “The senior project provides a structure in which such students can find a mentor and design and take on their own independent work, allowing them to learn new skills and take their goals to the next level,” Barbara Shellito said.
Above is a wordle of all the topics people are covering for their senior independent projects. “The senior project provides a structure in which such students can find a mentor and design and take on their own independent work, allowing them to learn new skills and take their goals to the next level,” Barbara Shellito said.

Seniors take on a wide variety of fourth quarter independent projects

May 17, 2016

Seniors at WHS have the option to pursue senior projects during their last quarters of high school. This year, over two dozen seniors have chosen to take on independent projects that range a wide variety of topics.

According to Barbara Wolfson, the senior project co-advisor, senior projects “are an opportunity for seniors to explore an area of interest.” Barbara Shellito, co-advisor along with Wolfson, started the program about six years ago. She noticed seniors had interests outside of the school classroom that they might have liked to investigate more deeply before they finished high school.

“The senior project provides a structure in which such students can find a mentor and design and take on their own independent work, allowing them to learn new skills and take their goals to the next level. It also may allow them to explore a possible career path or give more time to a volunteer program,” Shellito said. “By developing a proposal and following through on independent work, they also learn self-management skills that will be invaluable in future years.”

According to Wolfson, senior projects are introduced to the whole grade in December. In order to pursue an independent project, seniors have to apply for the program by writing a proposal about what they would like to do.

Wolfson and Shellito are part of a committee that reviews the applications. The committee looks at each student’s schedule to figure out how and when they will work on their project. Each senior is allowed to drop one or two classes, depending on how much work is required for their project. Dropping one class is equivalent to spending about five hours a week to work on the project.

Some types of projects include internships, research, creating blogs, creating objects, teaching and creating art, choreographing dances and helping teach at a dance studio.

Senior Jack Stansky, is creating three financial portfolios. He asked three of his friends to come up with some realistic goals related to investment for their own futures. Next, Stansky started building their financial portfolios based on their goals and special interests. For the past few weeks, he has been evaluating stocks and bonds in order to create the most successful portfolios for his three friends.

According to Stansky, he has been interested in the stock market for a long time.

“I love the competitive nature of it and the opportunity to benefit financially. I decided to do my project to get more experience evaluating stocks and bonds,” Stansky said. “Every day I find myself reading more and more about the market and what is going on.”

Halle Gold and Sophie Pedersen, are doing a fitness and nutrition blog. Gold and Pedersen are using this blog to share and review healthy recipes and local exercise classes they think people will be interested in.

“I really wanted to do a senior project because I felt it was a great opportunity to do something unique that I wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to do in school,” Gold said. “It’s been really fun to take a stab at blogging, and it’s a great platform to share our experiences with others.”

Since Pedersen and Gold were little, they have enjoyed baking, cooking and working out together. They came up with this project idea as they were thinking of how to incorporate everything they love into one project. They finally decided on the blog focused on nutrition, something both girls are interested in, where they would cook and exercise together weekly.

According to Gold, their project takes up a significant amount of time because it includes cooking, taking an exercise class and blogging every week.

“However, I have really enjoyed doing it so far, and I am excited to put up a few more posts before the end of the year,” Gold said.

Elena Erdekian is doing a photojournalism blog about popular and well-known locations in Wayland.

“Although Wayland is a small town, I truly believe that there are so many historical and meaningful places that many of us have grown up around,” Erdekian said.

She is taking pictures and writing articles about a handful of places in town that are important to her and the community as a whole.

“I want to create something special that impacts not only me but also members of our community. I hope that people who read my blog are reminded of some of the nice things in Wayland and realize that we have some very special and significant landmarks,” Erdekian said.

Jason Mai’s senior project is a documentary about the Alabama Build-Vention.

“I decided to do this for my senior project because it made sense to combine my passions of filmmaking, martial arts and giving back to the community instead of sitting in a class I would have little interest in,” Mai said.

In his documentary, Mai is discussing his 2016 Alabama Build-Vention experience and what he learned there. The Build-Vention is a martial arts convention where mostly national and some international schools come and assemble in Alabama for a few days to train and work on community restoration projects.

According to Mai, last year they built a patio and a bread oven and helped fix an old man’s porch. This year, they partook in many projects, such as helping out at an animal shelter, helping fix up a school and helping repaint the town center.

Mai wants everyone to watch his documentary once it’s finished in order to raise awareness for the Alabama Build-Vention.

“The documentary is also about showing that martial arts isn’t just about the punching and kicking, but it’s also about giving back to the community and being a morally sound person,” Mai said.

Other students are writing graphic novels and poetry and creating art. Peri Levin is creating pottery. Her project consists of making various ceramic pieces that portray pottery throughout history.

According to Levin, she is “having tons of fun” with this project. She has researched styles of pottery from different eras and cultures around the globe and has already made eight ceramic pieces that represent seven time periods. These pieces are inspired by original pottery pieces that extend over five continents and span 600 years. To complete this project, she is working with a pottery teacher outside of school whom she has known for years.

“I’ve been doing pottery for about ten years, so I’m incorporating challenging techniques and new styles into my pieces; it’s a study for me in pottery as well as in art history,” Levin said.

Levin decided on this topic for her senior project because of her long-time passion for pottery. She shares that it has been an artistic outlet for her over the years. Throughout high school, she discovered her interest for her history classes and for art history specifically.

“I had the idea to do some interdisciplinary study of pottery over time, combining my love for ceramics with art history. I had anticipated more of a research-based project where I produced a few pieces, but it has morphed into such an in-depth study of my own art, an opportunity to really push my skills, try totally new things and learn about the past, which is such a plus,” Levin said.

Olivia Stitham wants to be an art teacher when she grows up, so to learn what it’s like, she is helping and “shadowing” WHS art teacher Janet Armentano for her senior project. Stitham aids in setting up materials in and outside Armentano’s classroom, such as in the showcase displaying AP artwork in the fine arts building.

“Ms. Armentano is the best. She’s a really fun teacher to work with, and she’s a really a good teacher. She’s just really good at explaining things,” Stitham said.

While observing Armentano, Stitham is trying to create a lesson plan that she can teach to the Drawing 1 class.

“I have been watching her for a while, so I can understand and learn from her, and then I’m going to try and do it myself,” Stitham said.

According to Stitham, it is important to understand the responsibilities that being an art teacher entails besides teaching.

“Being a teacher has many different layers to it… We have to set up so many different interactive events, so [I’m] just kind of learning how to organize other students and have them produce work for you to put into other things,” Stitham said.

Amy Cuneo, this year’s new visual arts teacher, is helping Stitham with the project too. Cuneo is teaching Stitham ceramics becasue in the process of becoming an art teacher, it’s important to know how to do many different types of visual art.

Lila Masand is using a music production computer program called “Logic” to compose music. This program lets you use many different instruments and sounds to create musical pieces.

To present the music in the best way possible, she is also coding a game to put the music to.

“For example, the idea is that your character can walk across a rainy environment while my rain-inspired song plays in the background,” Masand said.

According to Masand, she chose this for her project because of her love for music.

“I admire a lot of composers who make beautiful film scores and video game soundtracks, but I have never really had the resources or time to compose myself,” Masand said.

Fortunately for Masand, our brand-new music production lab in the fine arts building has all of the tools and equipment she needs for her project.

Masand says she has been spending more time on this project than on her daily schoolwork, but thankfully with the end of AP exams, she now has more free time.

“My project is extremely fun and really fulfilling. Sometimes it’s hard, though, and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that sometimes I’ll sit in front of the piano for an hour and get nowhere,” Masand said. “It’s strange; I’ve never had a project that I really struggled on yet kept wanting to work on. It’s a new feeling.”

Every senior project requires students to submit journal entries every Monday through itslearning so that Wolfson and Shellito can see everyone’s progress. Seniors will present their findings at the annual Senior Independent Project Presentation that is happening this year on Tuesday, May 24 in the Commons from 6:30-9:00 pm. This event is open to the whole school and will follow a science fair-like format. Each senior or group of seniors will have a table, and visitors will walk around and talk to everyone about their projects.

“If I had to say one thing to all the future people who plan on doing a senior project it would be this: Only do it if you are truly interested in exploring that area more,” Stansky said.

Participants and Projects:
Ally An and Allie Kunen – Creating a “Music and Memory” Program at Traditions
Dasha Bobrova – An Exploration of Kinetic Art
Taylor Chan – Fashion and Traditions from Immigrant Cultures
Tyler Chase – Sound Engineering Website — Resources for DJ
Michael Connell and Jimmy Lampert – Internship at Platform
Evyenia Coufos – Art and Math — Bringing Together Beauty and Logic
Ben Dixson, Marcus Meltzer, and Jason Mai – Alabama Buildvention Documentary
Elena Erdekian – The Best of Wayland
Anne Flaherty – Introducing “Roots and Shoots,” to Wayland elementary schools
Halle Gold and Sophie Pedersen – Fitness for Friends
Sherty Huang and Samantha Wong – Our Chinese Culture
Michael Keller and Tristan Ng – How to Reuse
Annice Kim – Communication through Dance
Calvin Laituri – Cyanotype: A Graphic Novel Chapter
Thomas Leacu – Creative Writing by Leacu
Peri Levin – Recreating Historical Ceramic Styles
Lila Masand – Music Production: Recording in Different Styles
Natalia Perez – The Canary Islands: A Travel Blog
Gabi Ragazzi – A Fund-Raising Concert for Aurora
Nour Sayeh – Clothing and Prejudice: A Study of Awareness
Larissa Sehringer – Designing a Personal Fashion Capsule Collection
Eric Snow – Why are you not feeling your best?
Jack Stansky – The Stansky Brokerage House
Olivia Stitham – Becoming an Art Teacher
Jess Washek – Exploring Comparative Religions

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