Seniors project options limited during virtual instruction


Jocelyn Fetter

Work smarter not harder. Students are using creative methods to get the motivation to get their school work done. Students Elijah McCune and Jocelyn Fetter sat at The Clay Cup on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Jocelyn Fetter, Reporter

During senior year, it is required to complete a senior project of some sort as a graduation requirement. Living through a pandemic has required teachers and students to conduct school in a non-traditional manner. 

I typically allow students more choice in terms of topic, but due to the uncertainty and ever-changing regulations, that is not possible this year. All of my students will be writing an argument-style research paper. In the past, students have had the option to conduct traditional research and write a college-style paper on it, complete a community service project and write a reflection on it, or create or perform something and write a reflection on it. The non-traditional style projects just aren’t feasible this year since I do not see students face to face,” Heather Tippet-Wertz said. 

Students are working with remote school learning. Students attend all classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and attend their morning classes on Tuesday and work asynchronous in the afternoon with Thursday’s morning classes blocked out for asynchronous time and the afternoons available for live classes. 

“The only benefit to completing a senior project virtually this year is preparation for an online college course. If our current situation continues into next school year, which I hope it does not, more students will be taking online college courses, and this will benefit them in that regard. The biggest challenge for me with these projects is going to be the inability to sit down with students face to face and help them through the process. Everything is more difficult on a virtual platform. I like to be able to literally sit next to students and have conversations about the process of researching and writing. It’s easier for me to help when the students and I are in the same physical environment. I like to talk, even if it’s just informally, with students on a daily basis about their topics and progress. All personal interaction is lost when learning on a virtual platform” Tippett-Wertz said. 

Students are working with Google Meets and Zoom to meet with their teachers and emailing them with any additional questions. Students have not been in person with their teachers since Nov. 25. 

I don’t think it makes much sense to do a senior project while learning remotely; a lot of information gets lost in the shuffle and communication between teacher and students. It’s hard to understand what exactly we’re supposed to be doing when our teachers are adding new things to it every day. Other schools in PA don’t have them and surrounding states don’t do a graduation project. But I do understand that Altoona is held at a certain standard, and we as students are held higher. I feel like the writing portions should be condensed, and we should be writing in the format that we know and have been taught to write in for 12 years, MLA instead of APA,” senior Riley Reid said. 

Seniors in previous years have been able to do different events for their senior projects in the community or the school but because of social distancing and restrictions this has been limited for seniors. 

“Personally I feel that my senior project has been made much more arduous, due to the lack of face-to-face help from teachers. I feel sort of discouraged having a senior project with remote schooling, because something that could’ve been fun feels more like a chore now. I think that the senior project should be structured in a way where students have more access to teacher help when they need it. I think they’re heading in the right direction with this so far due to the half days on Tuesday and Thursday. It allows for us to reach out and have individual help from teachers when needed,” senior Cassie Runk said.