Sucessful senior projects

Students explore passions, career choices

Maya Scahill, asst. a&e editor

Rather than going to South for the last two weeks of school, senior Natalie Brady will be exempt from all classes and finals. Instead, she will spend the end of the year shadowing doctors and physician assistants (PA) while learning to tend to patients, as part of South’s Senior Project program.

The Senior Project program allows students the freedom to participate in two or four week exemption from school to work on a project based on their specific interests. Brady explained that after much planning to submit her project, she emailed multiple hospitals to finally connect with the locations she would end up working with.

There are a wide range of projects that members of the program can participate in, usually falling into one of three categories: an internship, a creative project, or a service project, John Blix, Senior Projects Program Leader and Business Education Teacher, explained. 

Internship projects are beneficial as they provide firsthand experience of what a career that interests students actually entails, Brady explained. During her internship at Glenbrook Hospital and Highland Park Hospital, Brady said she was able to explore two careers that interested her.

ìI always knew I wanted to be in the medical field, but I [did not] know if I want to be a physicianís assistant or a doctor,î Brady said.

In order to complete her project, Brady explained she needed at least 50 clinical hours of work with a doctor or PA. During these hours, she worked with patients at the  hospitals, she added.

ì[During my internship,] I went on rounds with a PA and we went over all the patients that we were going to see,î Brady said. ìMost of these patients had surgery on their stomach, gallbladder, bladder, [or] kidneys, and we looked at [post-operation] evaluations. Then we did a second round with a doctor, discharged a couple of patients, [and] inserted a couple of catheters. I had no clue that I was going to get so much hands-on experience.î 

Participation in the senior project is a big commitment, as you give up the last weeks of your final year of high school, explained senior Jack Olsen. This fact made him hesitant to join. 

ìI had a couple issues [with my] confidence [in doing] it,î Olsen said. ìI wasnít sure if I really wanted to leave school like that and have to be by myself and make myself work.

For his project, Olsen went a more creative route and decided to make an album. He explained that he made each piece of the album himself: playing the guitar, writing the lyrics, and putting all of the pieces together into a finished song.

ìI tried [experimenting with] unique ways to play the guitar, and then I picked out the ones that I really liked [and] recorded those.î Olsen said. ìLater, I sat down and actually took those files and [turned them] into songs and worked on those over time.î

Every year, the program hosts a showcase event where students can show off their projects to students, friends, and family, Blix explained. This year, the showcase will take place on May 24 in the Student Activities Center.

ìTheyíre going to have a table [with] a trifold board that they will create and adorn with pictures and printed information,î Blix said. ìOn the table they can put artifacts that represent [their project] and make [it] come alive.î

Senior Project gives students space to discover and try out something they have always wanted to do firsthand, Blix explained. It gives students a freedom that they would not be able to experience anywhere else, even in class, he added.

ìSenior Project can be transformational,î Blix said. ìFor some students, it is by far a better use of their time than attending class and dealing with senioritis, not giving their best effort. Why not pursue something that you are proud of, and dive into something that is a passion of yours?î