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Senior Projects Point Toward Careers In Business, Education, & Science



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Senior Projects Point Toward Careers In Business, Education, & Science

By Tanjua Damon

The flavor of the spring Senior Projects at Newtown High School reflected entrepreneurs, education, and science. Seven seniors took part in the spring session of the independent project.

The seniors come up with a project idea and are connected with a professional in the project area. The students work independently to complete their projects, meeting with advisors in the evening twice a week to discuss the progress or challenging areas. Advisors for the Senior Projects are Jeanetta Miller, Allison Zmuda, and Randi Kiely. Peg Ragaini sets the students up with a career professional.

“The Senior Project is a cutting edge program. It’s making innovative uses of time. The program is one that is truly student designed and student constructed,” Ms Miller said. “They have the opportunity to go out in the world and work with professionals. The students in the program have a passion. It’s wonderful to see all the moments of hard work come to fruition.”

The Senior Project program is an independent style class where students are responsible for making sure things get done and have to organize and motivate themselves.

“This is a non-traditional way to get students in touch with the real world they are going to be becoming a part of,” Ms Kiely said. “They’re leaving something behind that will affect the community. The kids who are here who have come full process with this have an interest in the future of the community.”

Many of the seniors were interested in education. Some worked with writing, while others worked on projects with foreign language or music. Seniors who participated in the spring Senior Project program include Katie Woessner, Dave Zuluaga, John Barry, Seth Guiterman, Aly Themel, Jessica Ward, Dave Dos Santos, Anna Crozby, Melissa Hanna, Ashleigh Smarella, Katrina Buyers, Sarah Ingerman, and Heather Mastroianni. The students presented their projects on March 27 and March 29, at which time they were evaluated by various members of the community

Aly Themel designed a project addressing music curriculum for the Newtown High School Nurtury program. Like Aly many of the students found inclement weather to be their biggest challenge during the semester-long class.

“It was fun. But weather permitted me from working with the children a lot. It was fun putting it all together. It was hard for me to get started, but once I got the ball rolling it was fine,” she said. “You have to be self directed. If you fall behind, you’re going to have so much work to do at the end and you will be so stressed.”

Dave Dos Santos decided to teach people how to play drums and then have them perform at the Newtown High School Spring Concert.

“It’s a great learning experience. It was a lot of hard work and commitment but it all paid off in the end,” he said. “I learned patience. No matter what you do in your life, you are always going to need patience.”

Sarah Ingerman had students from Middle Gate School create books using rhymes. She found that sometimes you run into difficulties that are out of your control. The printer did not have her books completed in time so she had to come up with an alternative plan to have a visual for her presentation.

“Working with the kids, you get to see how they react to you,” she said. “You have to have backups. But just have fun with it and don’t get too stressed.”

Heather Mastroianni created her own spa for her senior project. She built a model of what the spa would look like, went to local spas to research how business was done, decided what services would be offered, and went to a bank to see what the financial requirements to actually make the project happen would be.  It was a lot of work, but Heather enjoyed the challenges her project gave her.

“I kept finishing things way too early. So I kept adding to it,” Heather said. “Putting the business plan and researching, there was so much that had to go into it. I had no idea what I got myself into. But I loved every minute. Now I know what I want to do when I go into college.”

Katrina Buyers, after reading a book titled In Their Own Way, about special education, felt it necessary to investigate how special education was dealt with in Newtown and to design a booklet that would help to educate families on terms and services that are provided.

“I was ready to attack the special education system, but as soon as I began observing at Middle Gate I found my attitude was totally offensive,” Katrina said. “Instead of looking at it as something to attack, I looked at it as a model.”

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