Central Kitsap students aim to wrap up senior projects

Yearlong study a graduation requirement for CKSD students.

Every Central Kitsap School District high school senior will present a culminating project before graduation — the final piece to the commencement puzzle.

The graduation requirement aims to prepare students for post-secondary success through a year-long in-depth study on a topic of their choice.

Students explore an interest that connects to their future, apply previously learned academic skills, consult with community members, maintain a learning log and make a formal presentation, among others, to fulfill the project requirements.

“What you have is a student who works on a year-long project on a topic of their choice,” Olympic High School Culminating Project Co-Coordinator Mindy Eisele said. “This (project) asks the student to manage his or her own project. It pushes their envelope.”

Timelines and major assignments on the project are consistent throughout the district, but individual teachers may fine-tune certain components to suit their class, Eisele said.

At Olympic High School, students this year were required to draft a proposal, work with a community consultant, write a scholarly paper and a reflective paper, document sources and make a final presentation to a panel of judges. The scholarly paper was a new requirement.

“We felt that our students did not have a true grasp of writing,” Eisele said.

With topics ranging from real estate to culinary arts to environmental studies, students explored areas of their own interest.

Matt Dreaney, a senior at Olympic, chose sex education as his project topic. He wanted to enlighten his peers on what many deem an uncomfortable subject.

“The primary focus was sharing information with local schools,” he said. “I’m doing this because I hope through my work I can rid our generation of the ignorance’ of (sexually transmitted diseases).”

Dreaney joined Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council, a year-long peer education program for teens ages 15-18, and visited schools around the county to discuss healthy sexual behavior. His Teen Council team presented information on sexually transmitted diseases, safe sexual habits and other health issues related to sex to students grades eight to 12.

“A large reason I did this was to step out of my comfort zone,” he said. “That was something that really kept me on my feet.”

Through the Teen Council program, Dreaney received 50 hours of training and learned how to approach his peers about sex education.

“I became a resource for my friends. That was really neat,” he said. “Probably one of the most important things I have taken away from (the project) are the bonds and friendships I’ve formed. That’s something I really value.”

Dreaney presented his findings to a panel of judges, composed of volunteer community members, parents and district staff.

“This is one of those bridges linking students between high school and post-secondary,” judge and OHS Career Counselor Gail Oxley said.

Students must earn passing marks from each judge to graduate. They have two opportunities to pass.

The project also allows students to network with future employers by utilizing real-life skills valued in the workforce such as time management, goal-setting and problem solving, Oxley added.

Some judges even returned for a second year of presentations.

“I noticed a big improvement from this year to last year,” second-year judge Barb Murphy said.

Murphy cited the project’s post-secondary value as one of the reasons she returned for a second year.

“To me this requirement is so real life,” she said. “They learn real, real skills. That’s why I’m such an advocate for this.”

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