‘I just loved being creative’: Many Nevada Union students complete senior projects despite no requirement | TheUnion.com

‘I just loved being creative’: Many Nevada Union students complete senior projects despite no requirement

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

Senior projects have been described as a storied tradition at Nevada Union High School.

Every year, hundreds of community members are invited to view presentations from students on projects that can include anything from creating films and training service animals to job-shadowing firefighters, according to Nevada Union teacher Steve Hansen.

This year, students were expected to present their projects on May 20 and 21, but the coronavirus, changing much about the school year, completely overhauled those plans and turned senior projects into optional ventures. But just because the projects weren’t mandatory doesn’t mean many students didn’t complete their assignments.

Nevada Union graduate Zed Friedman held a 54-minute virtual film festival on April 5 by compiling a number of films he’d worked on over the past three years. One of the films was submitted to the Through The Lens festival, where he said it won a number of awards. Originally planning to display the films at his grandfather’s retirement home, Friedman said he put together an online live event due to the pandemic. About 110 people took part in the event, and it had accumulated up to 1,588 views by Wednesday morning.

“I wanted to kind of show my progression as a filmmaker,” said Friedman, adding that he worked even harder on the project after it was no longer mandatory. The graduated senior says he now plans to attend Chapman University to study film.

Support Local Journalism

Tal Vinizky also worked on a film for his project, which was about his father’s friend, a Rough and Ready resident who built his own home and reflects on his travels from the U.S. to Israel to Europe and back again to the U.S. In making the 30-minute film, Vinizky said he learned how to produce a movie and how to conduct an interview. A few weeks ago, he began working as an intern at Nevada County Media and noted that he plans to continue producing videos.

Gyana Roberts designed costumes for her project, which were put on display at the Nevada Union musical, “Be More Chill”, in January. Roberts said she was basing her designs off Lady Gaga in an attempt to capture “the epitome of coolness.” She’s hoping to study costume design in college.

“I just loved being creative and getting to kind of build something of my own, and especially get to have my work shown on stage,” she said.


Not everyone was able to complete their project. Graduated senior Gabriel Torres had planned to study the psychological effects of working out, and was preparing to shadow a Nevada Union softball trainer, before COVID-19 hit. He hoped to describe the nuance within the fitness industry, he said, as sometimes particular trainers or regimens can lead to more harm than good. While Torres said it’s harder to workout consistently these days, he notices the benefits it provides him and wonders what it can do for others. Torres said he plans to either enter the military or become an EMT.

“I noticed that going to the gym, working out, has helped me,” he said, “and I was wondering if it helped other people.”

Miya Garcia, having worked with the U.S. Forest Service over the last few summers, explored controlled burns for her project. Garcia said she learned that burns are conducted at certain periods during the day and only during certain types of weather, adding that it takes years of planning to determine where to conduct a burn.

“I learned the safety measures they take and how they burn,” she said, adding “It really helps (tame) wildfire and it helps make it so wildfires don’t become so large and take out homes.”

Garcia said that while she now has a vested interest in wildfires, she plans to get a nursing degree. Regardless, she feels the project helped inform her about nature and Nevada County’s environment.

“It was a really good experience,” she said, “and it’s nice to be able to know more information about that stuff.”

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Connect with needs and opportunities from

Get immediate access to organizations and people in our area that need your help or can provide help during the Coronavirus crisis.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User