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Bitney seniors shine through projects

Submitted to The Union

The Senior Project is one of the traditional culminating events for graduating seniors at Bitney Prep, but this year, like everything else due to the ramifications of COVID-19, things are operating a little differently. Instead of doing a formal presentation in front of their peers, parents, teachers and mentors, students are submitting their presentations online.

“We’ve had to adjust to this reality,” says Class of 2020 Advisor and Bitney Prep English teacher Daniel Elkin. “Our seniors have worked hard all year on this project and we wanted to give them a venue to share their accomplishments. Right now, with social distancing guidelines in place, online was really our only option.”

Unlike their internship projects, where Bitney students work with their internship mentors to create a project that adds value to the internship site while demonstrating the student’s learning, or their Exhibitions, where Bitney students present their reflections on the prior semester’s experiences academically, at their internship sites, and as part of the Bitney community, the Senior Project at Bitney has always been about a student’s passion.

“At Bitney, for our senior project assignment, our seniors are encouraged to find that one thing that they’ve always thought they’d like to do, but never really had the time or the encouragement to try it,” continues Elkin. “Together, in our advisory, we go through a number of steps to help them identify what they want to do, find resources, and then shape that idea into something they can actually accomplish. This year I was particularly amazed at the range of project ideas. When we had to move to a distance learning model a few months ago, I knew I had to come up with a plan to make sure kids could still share the work that they did.”

This year’s senior projects were truly a reflection of the diversity of the Bitney Prep Class of 2020’s interests and creativity. Senior Jake Trembly worked on getting a basketball half-court installed on campus, while Kait Jordan created a Peer Advocacy Group at Bitney where students could find support and encouragement among their peers. Josh Pryor worked on a children’s book about “Nog, the Christmas Ostrich,” Milan Limonciello restored a Daihatsu Hijet Mini-truck, and Camryn Ahhaitty Growing Thunder designed and sewed a red Jingle Dress to honor missing and murdered Indigenous women.

“Everyone, from the students to their parents to the staff at Bitney Prep, was all looking forward to our annual Big Night where our seniors present their projects because this is such a great group of kids. While this remote presentation pales compared to that sort of experience, at least students still get to show off their accomplishments,” says Elkin.

Other senior projects this year include Chris Miller repairing and refurbishing audio equipment from the 70s and 80s, Ezra Echols creating a support community of and for video gamers, Jude Webb and Castiel Frost doing tattoo flash, Emma Brodie sculpting her own dolls, Ethan Heston programming his own platforming video game, Anathe Parkes creating beautiful acrylic pour paintings, Robert Garcia creating a Fire Safety Plan for his neighborhood, and both Abram Gomez and Jonah Rivera recording their own albums of original music.

The move to online presentations may not be ideal, but Bitney Prep senior Noah Talbott, whose project was to teach boxing skills to elementary school kids and to lead a self-defense class at Bitney Prep, sums it up best when they say, “Even though moving online is hard, and though we couldn’t present our progress in person, we as students should all still feel proud of ourselves regardless of the conditions. We have all worked very hard to be where we stand now.”

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