Students deliver in-depth presentations on topics researched since fall

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Some Riverdale juniors, including Megan Larkin, participated in the senior exhibitions.Three juniors and the class of 2014 delivered their senior exhibition presentations last week, an event that packed the Riverdale High School parking lot and filled the halls and meeting rooms with curious-minded visitors.

Students wearing business suits and professional skirts and dresses stood before large groups, giving PowerPoint presentations and discussing college-level concepts. Senior exhibitions are an annual tradition and Riverdale’s answer to a state requirement.

State diploma requirements include high schoolers proving they’ve met career-related learning standards and that they can apply knowledge and skills they’ve gained outside the classroom. Riverdale students begin work on a long-term, in-depth project in the fall, exceeding standards. Plus, three go-getter juniors are participating in the project over a two-year time period.

Laura Pridmore-Brown, the teacher that coordinates the senior exhibitions, said the process matters to her, and she believes in it and in her school’s REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Riverdale senior Ryan Molinari details why college athletes should receive equitable exemption.

“This school has so many opportunities to explore other types of teaching, in terms of projects, collaborative learning and creative approaches,” Pridmore-Brown said.

For their senior exhibitions, students at Riverdale High pen a 12- to 15-page research paper and put together a service learning or shadowing opportunity that incorporates interviews and observations. The project culminates in a presentation before a panel of teachers, fellow students and community members that showcases what students have learned and how they learned about it.

With “Improving Diagnosis and Access to Treatment for Mental Illness,” senior Jessie Jansen examined one way to address the rising problem of school shootings such as the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in 2012, when 20 children and six adults were slain. In a March 2014 New York Times article, the father of shooter Adam Lanza said his late son was a troubled child.

“The most viable solution that we can do as a community is reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness,” Jansen said.

So, more people with mental illnesses would seek treatment, and more people would be open to supporting them, keeping people from rising to the point of committing violence, she REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Gabe Senn describes The Role of the Bystander in Bullying for his Riverdale senior exhibition.

In the “Equitable Compensation for College Athletes” presentation, senior Ryan Molinari described why Division I and Division II athletes in men’s basketball and football should be allowed to unionize and receive pay for their time and effort.

“It is the first research college paper I put together, so that’s a new skill I have, and it’s the first time I did a presentation that big,” Molinari said.

Megan Larkin, a junior, said her older sister did her exhibition over the course of two years, which inspired her to do the same. In “Developing Environmental Science Curriculum,” Larkin explores how schools could integrate environmental science concepts in fifth to eighth grade in all subjects.

“The environment can’t be isolated from every aspect of life,” Larkin REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Riverdale junior Megan Larkin presents her senior exhibition: Developing Environmental Science Curriculum.

By Jillian Daley
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