The Senior Experience: Not What It Used To Be

June 08, 2020 | Education | Larry Hiday

This has been quite an historic year for seniors, and at Columbia Adventist Academy in Battle Ground, Washington, it isn’t just due to COVID-19. It began in the fall of 2019, which now seems an eternity ago, when seniors returned to find a new class had been added to their agenda that would culminate with a senior project and portfolio. Resident artist and therapist Nita Yuros undertook to become the fearless leader of this new enterprise, Senior Experience.

Students weren’t too excited at first about the prospect that loomed ahead, but as they learned more about the different topics — such as resume writing and job interviews — and experienced guest appearances by business people in the community, they began to realize the potential this class held.

Students began coming up with ideas for their projects, which needed to include research, a product, community impact, documentation of more than 60 hours of involvement and a formal presentation to a panel of community members. Projects exhibited a wide diversity. Examples included the research and purchasing of equipment for a CAA recording studio, reading and recording mindfulness stories with accompanying music composed by the student, a video documentary of military veterans, and a hand-drawn planner available online to help others with their organization.

Following her formal presentation, Aspen Schafer, whose senior project dealt with animals and mental health, said “[It] really pushed me out of my comfort zone in many ways. It helped me create personal goals for myself and made me manage my time well and efficiently.” In giving advice to future seniors, Eddie Coberly, a senior and book author, advised them to “choose a senior project that you will enjoy doing. You will most feel like working on it if you want to rather than if you have to, and enjoying the project will make the hour requirement pass by so much faster.”

One community panelist stated that, in all the many senior project presentations he had heard at other high schools in addition to the speech classes he taught at the college level, he had not seen such a high caliber of public speaking. The CAA seniors’ stage presence, preparation of delivery and formal project defense presentations also exceeded his prior experiences and expectations.

CAA is proud of our seniors. We look forward to seeing how they make the world a better place as they continue to use their gifts to answer God’s calling.