Edgemont High School seniors present their Senior Projects
Seniors stand together after their end-of-year Senior Project Presentations, from left: Antje Rendon, Sierra Morse, Morgan Rhode, Jared Leite, Amy Printz, Bridget Neville, Anna Hansen, Olivia Ellstrom. In front is Peyton Ostenson and Emily Schumacher.
By Garland Wright
EDGEMONT – On April 6, 2023, Edgemont High School Seniors shared their Senior Project Presentations with two judges’ panels. Each year Edgemont High School seniors must complete a Senior Capstone experience in which they must complete at least 20 hours working on a project of their choice. As part of the Senior Project experience, students must write a ten-page research paper covering their topic, work with a mentor with expertise in their field, work with a teacher advisor, present two separate presentations in front of a judges’ panel, and compile a portfolio spanning the work of their project.
The goals of the Senior Capstone Experience are to foster the following skillsets in Edgemont graduates before they head into the “real world”: networking, self-sufficiency, research strategies, presentation skills, and advocacy. Ultimately, seniors move from gaining new knowledge to utilizing it through practice. In doing so, students gain authentic and relevant learning opportunities that larger schools often cannot provide.
Senior Olivia Ellstrom titled her project “Banking on the Blood” because she organized a blood drive at Edgemont School in January. Ellstrom set a goal of collecting 23 units of blood and exceeded that goal by collecting 33.
“I think the experience I gained while doing this project will carry on with me after high school. With planning a blood drive came the knowledge of how to organize an event, but also a new understanding of an important issue in today’s world. Prior to doing this, I would have never considered donating my blood. Now, I understand how much of a difference it makes, and I would absolutely donate,” states Ellstrom when reflecting on her project.
Senior Anna Hansen titled her project “Helping Hands, Happy Heart.” Hansen completed a CNA class and passed on her first attempt at licensure. She also earned her CPR certification and worked hundreds of hours as a CNA.
“Looking back, being able to complete this project was very gratifying. Knowing that I can learn the material, do the work, and work well with new people excites me for the future. Being able to accomplish this gives me the confidence to go into the next part of my education… I had to learn how to take responsibility for another person’s life by making sure they were being properly cared for,” states Anna Hansen.
Jared Leite raised funds to purchase a new leg press to donate to the Edgemont YMCA. His project titled “No Pain, No Gain” focused on health through physical fitness. As part of Leitner’s project, he created a video demonstrating the proper techniques for using equipment in the gym. He also hosted a Walking Taco fundraiser to raise the money needed.
“I learned that running a fundraiser and communicating with the local community is not as easy as many people may think. I learned that video editing and strategies for lifting weights are diverse and numerous. I also learned that the younger you expose a person to weight training to weight training, the sooner they will apply it in high school,” states Jared Leite when reflecting on his project.
Sierra Morse completed a project titled “Comfy Cozy Designer.” Morse chose to create streetwear sweatpants because she loves fashion and thought it would be fun to learn to sew. Morse cut old sweatshirts she bought at various thrift stores into different pieces. She then sewed them together in new and exciting ways.
“While completing this project, I have learned to sew, read a pattern, make a body double, and create different stitches. While doing this project, I also learned communication skills. In the past, it has been hard to go out and talk to a person about anything. This has pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I have now learned that it is not hard to talk to people as I once thought,” states Sierra Morse when explaining what she has learned during her senior project.
Bridget Neville titled her Senior Project “Signing for the Future.” Neville chose to learn American Sign Language (ASL) because she wanted to learn a new language. She also wanted to raise awareness about the language with little kids so they can grow up being aware of the deaf and hard-of-hearing population. Neville decided to learn as much of the language as possible and prepare to produce her final product: translating a children’s book into ASL. She created a video where she reads a children’s book aloud and signs simultaneously.
“In this project, I learned a new way of thinking about sentence structure and a little bit about deaf culture in America. I also discovered that learning ASL was much easier for me than learning Spanish. I also
learned how valuable it is to have someone who knows the language to be there and help guide me. It helped me while I was trying to develop a better understanding of the language and how to use it properly,” states Bridget Neville when discussing her project.
Peyton Ostenson completed a project titled “Drawing Awareness,” where she completed a pencil drawing of Chance Englebert, a local man who went missing in the summer of 2019. To help raise funds for the Chance Englebert scholarship, Ostenson sold prints of the picture she drew online and at a basketball game.
“Throughout the process of my senior project, I feel like I have learned a lot. I have learned about how tedious the process of drawing a detailed picture truly is. It has taken a lot of time to really pull out details, especially where they are lacking. I have also learned how to deal with unforeseen circumstances and how to deal with making changes as I go to still make a successful project. I have also learned how to work with people who may not always see eye to eye,” explains Peyton Ostenson of her project.
Amy Printz titled her project “Amplifying Voices, Changing Lives” because she went through training to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. She can only become a volunteer once she is 21, but the office in Rapid City allowed her to come up and go through the process of becoming one. Printz went on to do a presentation on the CASA program for Edgemont locals to help spread awareness of the program.
“Going through the classes was very eye-opening, and there were a few things that I learned that caused me to change my perspective. I had always assumed that children who are placed in foster care are thankful to be out of the unsafe situation they were in, but really, foster care is just the lesser of two evils. I also learned more about being willing to just reach out to people to ask questions. If I would not have reached out to the executive director of the program in Rapid City, I would not have been able to do this project. I am so glad that I decided to reach out even though it did not seem like there was anything that I could do with the program for my project,” states EHS senior Amy Printz.
Senior Antje Rendon completed a project titled “Finger Pickin’ Good,” in which she learned how to play the guitar. Rendon selected this project because she wanted to know how to play an instrument. She learned the song “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People and then recorded that song to demonstrate her progress.
“I learned that learning an instrument is not as easy as it looks. For the guitar, I had to train my fingers to be able to bend in certain ways that they could not go in before. I still struggle with the G chord because of the finger placement. I also learned that when you first start playing, your fingers will hurt. After the last few days, the skin that has to press on the string develops a strong exterior; I could not feel anything except pressure in those fingers for a few days,” explains Antje Rendon when reflecting on her project.
Morgan Rohde completed a senior project titled “I Soap You Like It.” In this project, Rohde made soap and learned about the two processes of making soap. She learned about the history of soap making and the benefits of natural soap making versus store-bought soap. Rohde also experimented with different ingredients and colorings to create different designs and beneficial properties according to the ingredients.
“While completing the project, I learned how to make the soap itself and learned to have lots of patience. I had to wait twenty-four hours to take the soap from the mold and then four to six weeks to use the soap. I learned that there is a lot of science involved in soap, and there are many different chemical reactions that happen with the lye. While completing this project, I learned how soap is made and what components are used,” explains senior Morgan Rohde.
Emily Schumacher completed a project titled “Love is in the Hair.” Schumacher knew she was interested in cosmetology, so she decided to complete a series of hairstyles on different models. She also shadowed stylists at Salon 402 and observed how they worked with customers. Schumacher observed stylists work on hair and nails but especially enjoyed the nail art. Fortunately for Schumacher, shadowing in a salon solidified her desire to attend cosmetology school.
“I learned that this is still interesting to me, and I want to go to cosmetology school. I also realized that looking at hairstyles and doing them is different. For example, I would look at a hairstyle that seemed easy enough for me to do, then I would try it, and it would not look anything like the picture. I think the main thing that I learned through this project was that I don’t know a lot about hair and still have a decent amount to learn,” explains Emily Schumacher.
Edgemont Senior Projects will continue to be part of the curriculum as it is necessary to complete one to graduate from Edgemont High School. The projects require students to call upon the knowledge they have gained throughout their high school careers. It takes students out of their comfort zone and ultimately prepares them for life outside of school.