Senior project offers students ‘real world’ experiences and opportunities


Photo courtesy of Ali Madden

Senior Ali Madden captures a moment with her cousin, Sam Madden, at the Portage County Court of Appeals. Since Ali Madden is pursuing a degree in law, her cousin helped set up this experience to shadow a judge.

A majority of the seniors have recently wrapped up regular classes and are taking a step into the real world. Through the senior project, new this year to SHS, they are committing 50 hours to shadowing professionals in careers they are interested in.

Seniors were required to work with someone who is not blood related to them. Students used many resources to get in contact with professionals. 

Gaggie Kaur’s did her Senior Project at a company that repairs trucks. (Photo courtesy of Gaggie Kaur)

Gaggie Kaur is learning about the business of car repair and said she got in touch with her sponsor through a family friend.

There were loopholes in the project for some seniors, though. Ella Deevers explained that because she takes CCP (College Credit Plus) and three AP (advanced placement) classes, she is exempt from the senior project and most other classes; she just had to attend CCP and AP classes until May 18. 

Ali Madden is shadowing Judge Lisa Forbes at the Eighth District Court of Appeals. “My cousin actually works here and she asked her boss [Forbes] if I can shadow her and she was more than happy to,” Madden said.

Deciding what to do was not difficult for her. Madden said, “I’ve been set on becoming a lawyer since around fifth grade…My whole family are lawyers and it’s always been something I found interesting and wanted to pursue.”

The process of choosing to do the senior project was pretty simple for the students. They were  either all the way in or all the way out. For Kaur, it was all about stepping outside of her comfort zone.  

“I chose doing [senior] project because it was an opportunity to experience something out in the real world for myself,” she said. “It allowed me to step out of the comfort and daily schedule of coming to school.”

Senior Meghan Epple presents her senior project to her homebase teacher and classmates. (Brett McCann)

Even though her major is nursing, she has learned how to work as a team and it has reminded her that in the end, it is all about helping others. “Repairing trucks for others takes a lot of work,” Kaur said. “I’ve learned a lot of terms I’ve never known before and I’ve developed some quick-thinking skills. I’m learning a lot and doing something by myself for once. I’ve never done anything like this before.”

For Madden, doing the project made more sense to her than opting to stay in school. “I chose to do the senior project because I felt like I had connections with people that could help me later on in life with my career, rather than sitting in a classroom and watching movies, since seniors didn’t have testing.”

This experience helped Madden jump start her career. “I plan on attending law school so this definitely will help my future career.,” she said. “Everyone in the office is a lawyer or judge, so they help me understand the writing, the thinking process, and teach me how to think logically. I think this definitely helped me so then I know how it works in the ‘real world’ and know what I’m in for.”  

Paul Bartl is one of the students who did not do the senior project. He explained that originally, it was an interest of his, but he was denied due to his attendance. 

Presenting her senior project to her homebase teacher and classmates is Amari Jennings.

Bartl, in the end, said he is happier with how it worked out. “I don’t have any regrets about [not] doing the project. It feels good to not have to come into the school and have full lessons all day. I feel like this was a good way to end my senior year.” 

Movies and mini lessons in most of his classes made his last days of school fairly easy, Bartl said.

Likewise, Jaedon Moore did not do the senior project simply because, he said, he did not care enough. Moore said he feels no shame or regret towards it.  

Yet their classmates, Kaur and Madden,  valued the senior project experience. “I loved it,” Madden said. “I absolutely loved it. I got to meet so many people, for example Supreme Court Justices Maureen O’Connor and Melody Stewart, that I talked to. Everyone gave me tips on how to prepare for college and law school.”