Three nights of Senior Project presentations concluded Wednesday, May 24. What came through each night was the passion students had for their projects, their ability to adapt along the way, a bit of self-reflection, and a lot of enjoyment.
“This is an incredible program,” said Senior Projects coordinator Neil Chaudhary on the final night, which included an original play with music, a visual and auditory journey, and multiple art projects. “What we are doing is making space for students to spend two weeks doing something they really love. In some ways it is your school career in microcosm. There is the planning, the execution, the overcoming of any hurdles, and the ultimate fruition of the project. It is really wonderful, and you can see the vibe over there,” Neil said, pointing to the crowd mingling in the Richmond Art Center to look at art projects described by students just minutes before.
That vibe said it all. Senior Calvin Pan, who was part of one of the presentations on the final night, was playing the keyboard. People were smiling, laughing, and talking as they enjoyed the gallery walk-through that concluded the evening.
Projects presented earlier in the week ranged from building apiaries for access to composing community poetry and from constructing a sextant to researching the cell biology of neurodegenerative diseases.
In addition to Neil, who is also head of the Science Department, project coordinators were Adam Alsamadisi from the Mathematics and Science departments; and Rachel Engelke from the History, Philosophy & Religious Studies Department. The role of a project coordinator is to guide the students in the process, checking in with them continually.
“The projects are a testament to the driven and diverse skill sets that all these kids have … this is what makes it so exciting,” Adam said. “They are so eager to pursue their interests.”
Rachel has taught at Loomis Chaffee for 23 years and has attended Senior Project presentations in the past, but this was her first year as a project coordinator. With 18 projects, three faculty members were needed, and she was more than willing.
COVID halted the program for a bit.
“We didn’t do them in 2020 or 2021 and last year was a small version to get the program back up and running,” Rachel said. “This year it is full steam, and I am blown away by the talent of these students.
“They were freshman in 2019, their whole high school career has been affected by COVID and this brings it back full circle. They went through a rough period in the middle, and to have this be the bright light at the end of it … it is almost like the optimism they might have felt as freshmen in 2019 when the world was a different place. To bring it back around and celebrate the rebirth of it all has been fun to see.”
Each Senior Project presentation included a summary of the project, an explanation of why the project mattered to the student, a description of the process and the lessons learned, and thank-yous to those who helped. The students enhanced their presentations with Powerpoint slides and, when possible, physical examples of their work.
Students interested in pursuing Senior Projects must submit project proposals. If their projects are approved, they must work at least eight hours per day for the last two weeks of classes to bring the projects to fruition. Students are excused from classes those two weeks, but the program description notes that these projects “are as challenging and substantial as completing the typical work of a regular course load — but usually a lot more fun.”
This year’s Senior Project presentations:
May 22 | Gilchrist Auditorium
Building Apiaries for Access | Inari Jade Barret and Delaney Denno
Injury vs. Genetics: How Tau Proteins Function in Neurodegenerative Diseases| Auden Sandberg
Microaggression Quest: a Racism Response Game | Serena Kim
The Sextant— a Celestial Navigation Tool | Ailin Chinn
A Passion Project: The Arts at Caring Connections | Anika Ahilan, Maggie Hamel, and Madison Oh
PeliHealth | Karly Saliba and Kate Stevenson
May 23 | Gilchrist Auditorium
The Menu: A Tour Through China| Annie Sun and Jamie Zou
A Community Poetry Collection | Alli Benthien
Bringing a Display to Life with a Raspberry Pi | Edouard Dupont
The Loom Centennial | Dora Lin and Nandini Ramanathan
Rethinking Tours at Loomis: A Data-Driven Analysis | Ignacio Feged
May 24 | Nichols Center Black Box, NEO Theater, Richmond Art Center
Some Jazz Was Playing: Original Play with Jazz | Neil Grover and Nathan Ko
Dresses in Wonderland | Abhi Muthavarapu
Harmony Across Borders | Angelina Amastal, Isabel Bedoya Rose, and Umu Diallo
Toad in a Hole: A Expressive Self Sculpture | Kirsten Lees
Exploration, the Self | Julie Kang
The Four Vessels: An Homage to My Loomis Years | Rebecca Fowler
Emotions Through Art: A Visual and Auditory Journey | Calvin Pan and Ella Xue
The May 24 presentations were followed by a gallery walk through in the Richmond Art Center.