Projects fulfilling in many ways
December 11, 2012 09:17 pm

McAlla Murdock explains how she helped another by serving as a personal trainer as part of her senior project this year. The Pilot/Lorna Rodriguez
McAlla Murdock explains how she helped another by serving as a personal trainer as part of her senior project this year. The Pilot/Lorna Rodriguez
Brookings-Harbor High School senior Jr Helme loved putting a smile on 27 youths’ faces this summer while teaching them about football. BHHS senior McAlla Murdoch enjoyed helping a client become more healthy and work toward her goal weight.

Both were fulfilling requirements for their senior projects. Helme ran a football camp for boys in grades kindergarten through eight, and Murdoch worked as a personal trainer. 

Murdoch and Helme are two BHHS students who recently presented their projects. A total of 15 students presented.

What BHHS calls “Senior Project” is known as “personalized learning” by the state of Oregon. To graduate, all high school students must complete an education plan and profile, serve in a career-related learning experience and complete an extended application along with the other general requirements. 

“The idea of that is personalizing the diploma,” BHHS Academic Dean Kathleen Dingle said. “For the student to take the project, make connections … and see how it is related to the real world.”

Murdoch chose to be a personal trainer because “my mom instilled the value that my body is a temple and should be taken care of,” she said. “She’s always been into the healthy eating and exercise. It’s a part of our family. Then I took those two classes (Strength and Conditioning and Training and Well Being) and I fell in love with the way Mrs. (Cindy) Appanaitis taught, and I could see myself doing that.”

To create a plan for her client, Murdoch drew from tips she learned in BHHS physical education classes, completed a yoga camp, read books such as “Dr. A’s Habits of Health” and gleaned material from magazines and websites. 

Murdoch said the assignment opened other career doors such as sports science, physical education and nutrition. 

At BHHS, students compile a portfolio that is filled with essays, recommendation letters, resumes and cover letters; complete a project and then present it to fulfill the state requirements. 

Helme decided to run a football camp because “I love football so much, and in my future I want to coach kids when I get older,” he said. 

To develop the camp, he worked with his mentor and former BHHS head football coach Joe Morin. Together they thought of  warm-ups, drills, footwork, passing and cool-downs that would be appropriate for the boys. 

The camp provided a valuable lesson – it gave him an understanding of how to coach youth, he said. 

Past project topics have included fundraisers, summer camp programs, music composition and/or performance, robotics and theatre.

They can be “an extension of an advanced class’ assignment/project beyond the classroom,” according to a handout on the assignment. “Such as taking an art project and extending that into an art walk exhibit where the contacts and set up were done by the student; using knowledge and skills learned in a law class and extending it out to compete as either the district or defense attorney in a county/ regional trial competition; working through the attempt of publishing a short story or poems that was done as part of a creative writing or English class.”

Students are required to spend 30 hours on the project. In addition to choosing a career-related topic, students submit a proposal and choose a mentor who has some knowledge or expertise within the realm of the project. 

Once the entire process is complete, students write a reflective essay about the experience. 

The next and final round of presentations will be Jan. 15.