By Riley Manning
TUPELO – For Tupelo High School underclassmen, the senior group project required for graduation is something of an urban legend, according to Christy Weir, community liaison for THS.
“The younger students fear it a little bit, because to them it seems like this huge impossible thing they’re going to have to do,” Weir said. “But it gets them working with the community and develops life skills that prepare them for college and job interviews.”
Thursday evening, the THS Class of 2014 showed off completed projects at the school’s Culmination Day. Earlier this week, each group was called to present their project to a group of peers and English teachers, who judge the projects and assign grades for them.
Students have labored over their projects since being assigned their four-to-six-member group at the beginning of the year. Students must create a product, involve an element of community service, and accumulate work hours outside school.
“I don’t remember life before senior project,” said Maggie Thomas, who with her other two group members, Tyra Floyd and Josh Caron, replicated the old sign of the historic TKE drug store downtown.
Caron said the group learned how to work as a team and communicate with each other.
“With any group, you’re going to have some stress and some head-butting, but I can’t believe I’m not going to see these guys as much anymore,” he said.
Not only did they get to know each other, but they also got to experience the history of the community.
“We had many people come up and tell us stories and memories about the drug store when they were kids,” Caron said. “We didn’t know how important it was to Tupelo’s history even though we saw it every day.”
April Friar, 11-year English teacher at THS, said the whole point is to push students out of their comfort zone.
“Their partners are assigned. Probably 95 percent of the groups wouldn’t have partnered together on their own, so it’s teaching them to listen and respect others,” she said. “It also puts them in touch with organizations in the community they probably never knew about, like the Good Samaritan Clinic. Some of them even end up getting mentored by business owners and important figures around town.”