More than 100 seniors at Richmond Senior High School completed their graduation project presentations on Thursday night in front of a panel of judges. The projects and presentations serve as a benchmark to senior year, and this semester brought no shortage of creativity.
Senior Mary Leviner, who created a project in which she studied the ins and outs of foster care, was the first name to be called on Thursday night. In front of a panel of three judges, Leviner explained that foster care is often confused to be something it is not.
“A lot of people believe kids are just taken out of their homes to be taken out,” she said. “That’s not true.” Leviner told the panel that she too had been in foster care since the age of nine, and had only recently gotten out.
She explained her involvement in programs such as SAYSO, or Strong Able Youth Speaking Out, as well as her opportunity to serve as a Page in the House of Representatives.
“Social workers are just like Democrats and Republicans,” she said, “because they all argue together, but they’re all also working for the common good.”
Leviner explained what it meant to be a foster parent, and described how it was different than she realized during her time in the program. As a product, she created a scrapbook to detail many of the experiences she had, including extensive mentor hours with her mentor, Cielo Poloche.
“I really learned a lot about foster care that I thought I knew,” Leviner said. “I learned it was made to provide my needs — not always my wants. The main thing of foster care is to reunite you with your family.”
She added that the project has changed her outlook on foster care, as well, because she realized that foster children are just like any others.
Nicholas Failing, another senior at Richmond Senior High, presented his thoughts on Mayan Prophecy and Paranoia in society.
“I chose this topic because I like doing research on the Mayans,” Failing said, beginning by explaining that the Mayan people were very religious. “They were thought to be related to the gods,” he said.
Along with that, they were known for their many rituals, Failing said, such as making a daily sacrifice they believed would bring the sunrise every morning.
He then explained many aspects of paranoia, and how the end of the calendar cycle scared many people into believing a disaster would occur.
Along with help from his mentor, writer Paul Novak, Failing produced a replica of the Mayan calendar using a combination of plywood, paint and copper paper. The scale model took more time than he expected, Failing said, but he eventually planned on selling the replica.
The senior said he plans on attending a trade school where he will major in computers.
To complete the graduation project, students must start by choosing a topic of study. Through their senior English courses, they begin the process of developing four assignments: a research paper, a product that showcases their work, a portfolio documenting their time spent, and a presentation that they share with a panel of community judges.
The Richmond County Board of Education voted to make the project a graduation requirement during the 2008-09 school year. Since then, hundreds of students have developed and presented projects over the course of the past three years.
Community members are always invited to get involved with the Graduation Project process by serving as a panelist for the senior boards night events. Participating not only provides a great way to become involved in the schools, but the opportunity to see how the project helps students prepare for their future endeavors.
To participate in the spring semester senior boards night at Richmond Senior High School, community members can contact Tonjua Chapman, Assistant Principal, by calling 910-997-9812, ext. 4141.