Project launch seniors into life |

Project launch seniors into life

Jill Darby

With the knowledge of a seasoned professional, the confidence of a sly thief, Andrew Centanni showed four judges how to pick a lock.

No, Centanni wasn’t breaking the law and he’s not a criminal. He was just taking the proper steps to ensure he can graduate from South Tahoe High School June 22.

In addition to taking final exams, 12th-graders are required to complete a senior project before they receive a diploma.

According to school officials, senior projects are designed to provide students an opportunity to explore an area that interests them. Students may choose a topic relating to career, academics, recreation, arts or personal development.

Once students receive approval on a topic, they must complete at least 15 work hours with a mentor, research and write a lengthy paper, and present their project to a panel of judges.

Project topics range from SCUBA diving to massage to architecture to sailing.

“When my computer stops working or stops working the way I want it to, I always say, ‘I should have built it myself,’ ” senior Greg Head said to the judging panel Thursday. “That’s what I did this year. I built my own.”

Head provided a step-by-step play of how he built his computer, a task that cost almost $2,000.

“It still has glitches but I’m much more satisfied with the performance,” he said. “And if something goes wrong I have no one to look at but myself.”

On a cold rainy afternoon, Centanni was locked out of his house for hours. He chose his senior project topic shortly after and learned more about locks than he ever deemed necessary.

“Picking a lock is no more than finding and exploiting the defects inside the lock,” he said.

For his senior project, Adam Wexelblatt presented an art show featuring 14 of his oil paintings and a watercolor piece.

He showed project judges three of the paintings he had on exhibit and described how to make cheap frames.

“One of the most important things is naming your paintings,” he said. “A lot of people underestimate what a name can do for a painting. An interesting name draws interest.”

This is the sixth year the senior project has been included in South Tahoe High School’s graduation requirements. Though the demands of the assignment are at times rigorous, most students say it’s worthwhile.

“I think the senior project is a good idea but if you don’t turn in like one piece of paper for it you don’t graduate,” said Patrick McDonnell, who did his senior project on SCUBA diving.

Head said he benefited from the presentation part of the project.

“I think the speech is a good stretch for some of us,” he said. “I’m actually going to minor in communications next year so this was a good experience for me.”

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