The North Carolina Graduation Project, or senior project, has been part of school systems since it was first developed in 1986. It has gone through various changes over the years by modifying its functions and requirements. The students of Elkin High School are still required to complete the senior project in order to graduate.
Seniors must complete 15 hours of work in the area of interest while supervised by a mentor in that field. Then they organize a portfolio of their work which includes a research paper written about the topic in their junior year of high school. Lastly, seniors create a presentation for judges, explaining the process and what was learned during the project’s research and work hours.
Senior Gracie Briggs did her project on nurturing children. She chose a topic based on what she liked personally. She said, “It’s the love I have for kids.”
Although she enjoyed her topic, it was challenging to keep up with all the requirements and meet deadlines. “The hardest process was being able to get everything together,” said Briggs.
Freshmen who have not started yet seem to be positive about the project. Freshman Madeline Morphis said, “I think it’s a good opportunity for the students to learn new skills that they will need later in life.”
Whatever students think about the projects, they are likely to remain a part of the Elkin High School experience for now.
April Swarey, English teacher, felt the projects offer chances for students to develop skills in career or personal growth. “The purpose of the senior project is to give students the opportunity to explore their interests and career paths.”
Swarey also said it helps students to go out in the community and build relationships with adults.
Swarey supports the projects and said the school still continues to do them because teachers and administrators have seen a boost in students’ self-confidence after they successfully complete their projects. The projects also help prepare students for jobs after graduation. “The skills of organizing information, meeting deadlines, and presenting to a group are all valuable in the workplace of today,” said Swarey.
Overall, the success of the projects reflects the strong character of many students at Elkin High School. While all students may not appreciate the opportunity, most do well in the end.
Audrey Jennings, Zoe Martin, Ella Briggs, Coleman Mathis are English students at Elkin High School.