Northwest NEWS

June 24, 2002


Life-long, real world learning makes projects valuable

As a defender and supporter of the Cedarcrest High School Senior Project I wanted to touch briefly upon the reasons this graduation requirement is so important. First, the writer of "Hypocrisy rears its ugly head ...", is engaging in a futile attempt to undermine the compassion and leadership embraced by the Cedarcrest community in relation to the thoughtful achievements of so many students who participate in this project. I want to cite two examples of the worthiness of the Senior Project and how it has affected our lives as parents of a former student(s).
   Our son graduated in the class of 2000 and went on to the University of Washington where he is continuing to flourish in his academic studies because of the rigor and high expectations coupled with accountability in mastering the Senior Project. Our son chose to take on the project commencing an in-depth study of photography, and up until his senior year he was not what one would call a budding photographer. He embraced the project full steam ahead as he researched, learned, studied, wrote and wrote, and listened to professional experts and his teachers who helped him proceed with his project. He crafted a niche for himself and found photography to be a life-long lesson in learning about people through the eyes of the lens.
   As parents we were amazed at his ability to take on such a difficult task. The rewards were astounding, and as he continued to pursue his photography he landed a job as a feature photographer for the University of Washington Daily, an award winning collegiate newspaper. He published and copyrighted many outstanding pictures and was published on a regular basis. Gestalt, one might say! This is an example of life-long, "real world" learning, which now seems effortless for him even though the work on the Senior Project was rigorous.
   Another example, one very different, is about a roommate of our son who also is a student at the U of W. This young man forfeited his junior and senior year at Cedarcrest High School to enter college at the age of 16. During his freshman year he completed a full complement of college courses, lived on campus, participated in college life and then proceeded to commute to Cedarcrest during his freshman tenure to complete his Senior Project, thus completing a high school diploma and his first year of college at the same interval. Whew, what positive success! What rigor!
   I give full credit to the staff, administration and the school board for requiring that all students achieve at their highest level, and that the success they incur will be demonstrated in their commitment to academics, and further back to their own community. Cedarcrest is well-known in the Puget Sound area for outstanding teachers and support staff who make learning creative, accountable and rigorous.
   I challenge the writer of "hypocrisy" to engage in understanding that Cedarcrest High School should be applauded for their stand and we should thank them for their time and commitment. Being angry and disgruntled is not proactive and will not help life-long learners have success. I believe all students at Cedarcrest have the ability to pass the Senior Project and hope that our community will continue to support the project with their commitment as well.
   Kathy A. Williams, educator, Carnation.