Senior projects shine during Spartan Showcase

Students shared their work with the community on Tuesday, March 7. Another showcase is planned for May 4.

Man talks to student at desk.
Superior High School principal Aaron Fezzey, left, listens to Sophia Starling talk about her senior project on Tuesday, March 7, during the Senior Project Showcase at SHS.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

SUPERIOR — A double row of tables lined the Superior High School cafeteria Tuesday, March 7 during the inaugural Senior Project Showcase. Some drew visitors in with quirky items — a skull wearing goggles, a yellow construction vest, swim fins — while others captured attention with a colorful display board. Each of them featured an enthusiastic senior with a project to share.

The senior project has been a graduation requirement at SHS for 18 years. It involves at least 15 hours of community service as well as career research that includes a mentor, job shadowing and interviews. The showcase, however, is brand new. Traditionally, students give a slideshow presentation on their work to a small group of adults.

Senior Project Coordinator Caitlin Knoll came up with the idea for the showcase while watching students present their projects last year.

Woman talks to student.
Superior High School senior project coordinator Caitlin Knoll, left, talks with senior Daniel Schnell during the Senior Project Showcase at SHS on Tuesday, March 7.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“Just seeing the kids talk about their projects, I felt like we were missing an opportunity to kind of show them off a little bit and let them shine a little bit,” Knoll said. “I wanted to be able to create a more celebratory feel ... you’ve done all this work, let’s celebrate that. I think it’s a great way to show off, too, the really cool things our kids are doing and hopefully make it a little bit more authentic experience.”

Twenty-three students volunteered for the event.


“I think it’s a lot less stressful just because I know I can talk, but when I have to stand up in front of people that are kind of just staring at me and present something, not the way to go for me. I don’t like that. I get really nervous and shaky,” said Kyleshia Taylor, who researched the mental health aspects of working as a caregiver for a group home facility.

Student talks about her project.
Superior High School senior Kyleshia Taylor talks about working as a caregiver during the Senior Project Showcase at SHS on Tuesday, March 7.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

During the showcase, however, she felt comfortable sitting and talking with people.

The conversational aspect of the showcase also appealed to senior Daniel Schnell, whose career research involved training members of the Whalers swim team at the Superior-Douglas County Family YMCA.

“I’m nervous to be in front of people and talking. I feel like this is a better way to get my ideas out there. I feel like this is more hands on, it's rewarding … I’m here talking to people face-to-face and it feels welcoming, almost,” Schnell said.

Lauren Gunderson's research touched on possible careers in oncology and family medicine, as well as job shadowing her Spanish teacher. She enjoyed putting together a display on the experience, which included a skull wearing goggles.

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“I think it’s just a new opportunity to try it out, try something new and have fun with it. It gave me a lot more creativity and helped me have the motivation to get it done,” Gunderson said. “It had some fun to it rather than just make a slideshow.”

Community members were also impressed with the showcase.

“It’s kind of neat,” said Darrell Hoeffling, who was there to support his grandson, Hayden Warren. “You get a better insight into what the kids are doing. You see all the different projects.”


It was, seniors said, a learning experience.

Tucker Briggs dove into a host of community service opportunities. He rang bells for the Salvation Army; helped serve a veterans dinner at the Elks Club; helped with timing and scorekeeping at the fifth grade Track-O-Rama event and at the Adam Long Memorial Youth Wrestling Tournament.

Student talks at table.
Superior High School senior Lauren Gunderson talks about researching oncology from her table at the Senior Project Showcase at SHS on Tuesday, March 7.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“It gets me out into the community and since they’re shorter things, I can get much more of them and that way I can build my communication and leadership skills and work with different people in the community,” said Briggs, who also researched a career in management at Vic’s Crane and Heavy Haul, which would start with a union apprenticeship.

Fresh from the state mock trial tournament, senior Claudia Fezzey shared her exploration into different types of law — estate and will law, immigration law and criminal prosecution.

“It shows you that there’s so many different options besides being a criminal lawyer,” Fezzey said.

Taylor currently works for the Challenge Center at a group home. The job can sometimes be a struggle. Since she started working there, the 17-year-old said, she has lost two residents.

“But at the same time, I know (from) helping those people that some of them don’t have families or they just have nobody to talk to, so being there and bring able to help them is definitely something I like to do,” Taylor said.

She expected the senior project to be a lot more stressful than it was.


“I enjoyed my experience in deeper learning. Even though it’s my job, I got to research more about it and learn a lot more than what I even do working in the facility already,” Taylor said.

The seniors at the showcase encouraged this year's juniors to start thinking about their project soon, and possibly get some community service hours done this summer.

"Don’t rush yourself, don’t stress yourself out, but also don’t wait too long," Taylor said. "Move slowly, but efficiently."

Knoll said a second showcase is planned for May 4 at the high school. A Google document is available for parents who want to learn more about the high school's senior project. It includes information on community service and career research requirements for all grades.

Students talks about her project.
Senior Addison Aker explains the research she did in photography and journalism from her table at the Senior Project Showcase at Superior High School on Tuesday, March 7.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Student talks about his project.
Steel toe boots and a hard hat rest on the table as senior Tucker Briggs talks about his senior project during the Senior Project Showcase at Superior High School on Tuesday, March 7.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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