At the beginning of senior year at Carson High School, students may feel a sense of dread and anticipation because they know that one thing stands between them and freedom: the Senior Project.
Many strenuous hours are spent completing the different aspects of this project throughout the year. These tasks include completing a research paper, doing an actual project relating to the topic of the paper, and presenting the always-feared oral presentation.
Students are not the only people involved in this yearlong project. Teachers and community mentors dedicate long hours to providing seniors the help they need to pass.
Although many students moan and groan at the thought of doing something so time-consuming, most are able to receive a positive experience.
"The best part is the actual project itself, because you get to do something you want to do," said senior Mike Dalton.
Dalton's project is putting suspension in a sand rail. A sand rail is a large-tired off-road vehicle usually used for joy riding in sandy areas.
When the project is all done, positive feedback is generally received once students realize that their effort was not done in vain.
The Senior Project began in 1997, and was originally part of the advanced-placement English classes. The project was already a part of the English curriculum, yet it was mainly just a research paper.
All of the other components were added in 1997, once Fred Perdomo and Mary Jean Lang returned from a Model Schools Conference in Nashville, Tenn.
At the time, Perdomo was a dean and is now principal. Lang was the head of the Language Arts Department, and now works for the Nevada Department of Education.
The Senior Project went class-wide in 2000, requiring all seniors to complete it.
"One main purpose of this project was to focus seniors on school right through their last semester," Perdomo said. "The Senior Project was the best thing added to education since athletics,"
Students and seniors alike tend to "zone out" during the end of the year and seniors begin to experience the common "senioritis" syndrome. The Senior Project is a way for students to work hard, no matter the time of year and to not be distracted by chirping birds and glaring sunshine.
Another purpose for this project is for the community to feel a sense of pride at the hard work and positive projects that are done at the school.
Programs and fund-raisers have started off as Senior Projects, such as programs for disabled children, math tutoring and the Make-A-Wish fund-raiser. This project helps to show the community that the senior class has something more on its minds than partying, pranks and relationships.
The connection between the school and the community is very important. Each year, hundreds of invitations are sent out to community members who can come and experience the final result of the project by viewing speeches.
As for upcoming seniors, any hopes of the Senior Project going away should be put to rest.
"We have no intentions of stopping the Senior Project," said English teacher Cheryl Macy. "The Senior Project is alive and well."
n Michelle Peltier is a senior at Carson High School and wrote this story as part of her Senior Project.