Senior Demonstration Projects have long-term impact

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Bolton - posted Wed., Jun. 22, 2011
Bolton High School senior Christina Everett describes her Demonstration Project, 'Bigs and Littles,' for which she paired upperclassmen with freshmen. Photos by Martha Marteney.
Bolton High School senior Christina Everett describes her Demonstration Project, 'Bigs and Littles,' for which she paired upperclassmen with freshmen. Photos by Martha Marteney.

All Bolton High School students are required to complete a Senior Demonstration Project. “It’s supposed to sum up our four years here,” explained senior Kathryn Giuffre of Bolton, “something we’re passionate about and something to benefit the community.”

“I was elected Student Council president,” explained Christina Everett of Columbia, “and I wanted [to produce a project] that would include a lot of the student population.” She developed a new program called “Bigs and Littles,” which partnered upperclassmen with incoming freshmen. Her goal was to make the transition to BHS easier for the incoming students. “It gets everyone ready for the tight-knit community that Bolton is,” she added.

When Everett asked students to participate for the 2010/2011 school year, nearly 150 students volunteered to be “Big” mentors to the 113 incoming students. “We had tremendous involvement,” said Everett. She surveyed the participants about their interests, hobbies and studies in order to best pair up the students. She also solicited local businesses for food and supplies to be used at the various events.

The Bigs and Littles first met at the orientation picnic in August 2010. Everett coordinated additional events throughout the school year. Of her teacher-mentor, math teacher Peter Turgeon, Everett said, “He was an excellent mentor.”

The project was such a success that “Bigs and Littles” is scheduled to continue for the upcoming school year. “That’s exciting,” said Everett. “I think everyone benefited from getting to know the other kids.” The vice president of the Student Council, Jenna Luck, will lead the program for the 2011/2012 school year.

With assistance from Principal Joseph Maselli, Giuffre changed the direction of her Demonstration Project from a fundraiser for soccer camp to an awareness program called Students Against Destructive Decisions. Her first initiative brought a speaker from Impact to the school. Impact is a group of parents who have lost teens from driving accidents. “It was heart-breaking, her story,” said Giuffre about the speaker's experience with the loss of a child. “The most moving part for me was the reaction from the kids.”

To follow up, Giuffre coordinated a mock car crash, involving drama students, the town’s emergency responders and Holmes Funeral Home. Staged in the BHS parking lot, the participating students acted out a life-threatening car accident using cars donated by Happy Hauling Towing. Members of the fire department, emergency medical personnel and State Trooper Kevin Cook responded as if it were a real accident, including performing an extrication of the bodies from the vehicles. After the mock car crash, there was a debriefing session.

“Again, the reaction from the students was surprising,” said Giuffre. “They thanked me for doing it.” She also learned of many students who went home and told their families about the mock car crash and the dangers of driving recklessly. “It would have been worthwhile starting a SADD club,” said Giuffre, “but I think the project had more of an impact.”

“One of the reasons these projects jumped out to me,” said Maselli, “was because they were year-long.” The principal was especially impressed by the way both projects interacted with the students, and made a lasting impression on them.

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