Tupelo High seniors show off

Click view slideshow link for photos from C. Todd Sherman.

TUPELO – Tyler Low’s culmination project didn’t come easy.
“Well, I changed topics throughout the year and then I got ahead of myself,” the Tupelo High School senior said. “But I finally got it done. It took many nights. Many Red Bulls.”
Tyler, who eventually settled on a devotional project for preteens, was among 420 THS seniors presenting projects at the BancorpSouth Arena on Tuesday.
“This is the first year we’ve called it the culmination project,” English teacher Brenda Key said.
The program began six years ago as the senior project.
Now starting during a student’s junior year with a research paper and the tentative selection of a topic, “It’s an ongoing project where students kind of examine their interests, their talents,” Key said.
“It’s made up of three components – a research paper, the product, which can also be a process, and then of course there’s Culmination Day.”
On Culmination Day, community evaluators ask students about their projects, and parents also have a chance to view their children’s efforts.
Their work counts as three major English grades and is required for graduation.
“There’s a lot of great projects here,” said Nola Love, whose daughter, Avery Worthem, worked with two other students on a multiculturalism project. “I see a lot of good coming out of it.”
During the event, the floor of the BancorpSouth Arena looked like a science fair, with row after row of tables topped by trifold cardboard displays students made to highlight their work.
Jonathan Fandel’s featured photos of his landscaping project. Mary Claire Jarrell made a scrapbook documenting her work on a Habitat for Humanity House.
Christeanna Shumpert used three mannequins to illustrate cultural makeup in today’s society. Rodrick Young cited recent studies finding “that exposure to on-screen smoking is the primary modifiable influence on teens to start smoking.”
One project that attracted a lot of attention was John Gatlin’s.
“It’s scrap metal art,” he said. “I wanted to develop a new skill with my hands. I had never welded before and it took a lot of practice. I wasn’t good at it at first.”
Working with his mentor, ornamental artist Michael Hester, Gatlin learned the skill and fashioned a baseball player named Mervin out of scrap metal including a milk container, a gas can and a mixing bowl.
“Like everybody, it was hard to get started,” Gatlin said. “But in the long run, this will help me in college at the next level.”
If they don’t already have it, students acquire patience and time-management working on their culmination projects, Allen Harris said.
Just painting the background on his display took eight hours, said Harris, who spent 41 hours whittling a walking stick from a cedar branch.
“Plus I’ve got school and I’ve got work almost every day at Busylad,” he said. “You just have to figure your time out real carefully.”
From observing Low’s experience, THS sophomore Megan Woolley learned a valuable lesson for when she begins her culmination project next year.
“Don’t procrastinate,” his girlfriend said.
Contact Ginny Miller at (662) 678-1582 or ginny.miller@djournal.com.


Ginny Miller/NEMS Daily Journal