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January 29, 2024

Class of 2024: Senior Project Spotlight

CHS seniors attending Senior Sunrise

Camas High School (CHS) seniors are, once again, starting up their year-long senior projects, a graduation requirement fulfilled through activities or studies that positively serve the community.

Senior projects were removed as a Washington state requirement in 2015, when they instead leaned more into standardized testing to gauge knowledge, meaning that a long-time tradition of CHS would be removed.

“Camas started senior projects in the 80s,” CHS Senior Project Coordinator and social studies teacher Kristi Bridges said. “It’s kind of the bridge to the rest of the world, because up to your senior year, we tell you what you need to learn and how you need to learn it, and the senior project is you figuring out what you want to learn and how you’re going to learn it,” said Bridges.

CHS Class of 2024 Rock Signing

Senior projects may be returning for the Camas School District (CSD). This change would allow seniors a more authentic and involved exit from the high school. Standardized testing does not reflect the students themselves, contrary to senior projects, which allow freedom and creativity for graduating students.

“However the CTE instructor for all of CSD says that what’s coming down the pipeline is something like [senior projects] coming back,” Bridges said. “It’s come full circle.”

Regardless of the potential return of senior projects being a district-wide requirement, there are plenty of cool projects this year to be recognized. One project is senior Nathan Martinez’s video series of tutorials on how to play Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) as both a player and a dungeon master, as well as how to play online with friends.

“I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons for over two and a half years now, and it’s probably one of the best times of my week,” Martinez said. “I know people that have been interested in playing, but don’t have the books, [or think] they’re really long, [so they] don’t know what they actually need to know [in order] to play.”

By engaging in something that Martinez is passionate about for his senior project, he can have fun and help people who are also interested in D&D.

Another of this year’s senior projects is that of Felix Chen, who is building a mind-controlled robot arm. After viewing videos of robot arms picking up cubes, Chen started thinking. However, after he saw someone playing video games using mind control, he was inspired to edit his idea.

CHS senior Reagan Jamison decorates her parking spot

Chen is doing this project because it sounds cool, and he has the knowledge and experience to make it work.

“I did an engineering internship over the summer with a [military-contracted] company,” Chen said. “I got yellow lit [on my project proposal], [but] I have $100,000 from Camtek to build my arm.”

Regarding balancing the year-long project and everyday school work, Martinez and Chen shared some advice for succeeding in classes and staying motivated.

“You have to balance [the senior project] with your workload in school,” Martinez said. “[Your project] should be something that you’re passionate about because otherwise, you won’t have the drive to do it.”

“Think of what you really want to do in the future and what you really want to do now, and just commit to it,” Chen said. “Make sure it’s fun. If I were doing a really boring project then I’d probably give up.”

Senior projects remain a CHS tradition as they encourage more student-community engagement and require in-depth, hands-on learning. In the future, CSD may completely revive the senior project assignment for all schools.

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Troy Siemers, Staff Writer

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