By Celia BURSTEIN
Nareh Hovhannisian, a senior at Clark Magnet High School, has wanted to make a music album for four years. This year, the senior project gave her the opportunity to pursue this dream. “It took a lot of time, and I wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t a part of my schoolwork,” Hovhannisian said.
The senior project, essentially a graduation requirement for all Clark seniors due to its heavy weight on the students’ English grades, incorporates a research essay and fieldwork about a specific topic of interest ranging from music to engineering.
Lara Kumjian said her senior project idea came naturally, allowing her to explore a topic she had been passionate about since childhood: art. “Since I was a kid, I was never interested in children’s programs. I always colored everywhere I went,” Kumjian said. “I knew that art was the way I expressed myself, so therefore I picked art therapy as my senior project topic.” For her fieldwork, Kumjian created six paintings which she displayed in her own exhibit at St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church, as well as at a Clark exhibit organized as part of Hripsime Kaichian’s senior project. As she did not have much art experience before, Kumjian said the senior project led her to discover this new talent and as a result she will be minoring in art at UC Irvine next year.
English teacher Carol Pettegrew believes these realizations are essential to the senior project. “I think that the students get a life skill that carries on way beyond college even,” she said. “The idea of presenting yourself and presenting what you’ve learned gives confidence and a really good sense of accomplishment as well.”
Gabriela Chiriboga, who focused her project on the positive effects of composting, said she always knew she was interested in environmental science. For her fieldwork, Chiriboga created a YouTube video, which teaches the beginner about composting. “I chose that because I was looking for something that would be environmentally friendly that I could teach to as many people as possible,” she said.
According to Pettegrew, many students decided their career goals as a result of the senior project. “There are as many who probably have decided not to pursue [a particular] career based on senior project,” she added, emphasizing the amount of time they saved by not pursuing their previous goals.
Hovhannisian said that although she does not want to major in music, she will continue to write and record music for the rest of her life. As a result of the senior project, Hovhannisian was signed to a netlabel and has about 4,000 song plays on her band’s MySpace page. “Like everyone learned, passion makes anything a possibility,” she said.