GRANITE FALLS, Wash. – They are three words that have brought dread to many high school students: Senior culminating project.
It’s a laborious endeavor that often brought students to tears.
It became a state requirement for high school graduation in 2008. A senior project requires students to apply their lessons to show they are the creative, problem-solving critical thinkers the state wants. It includes at least 40 hours of work, including job shadowing and a 20-minute presentation. Many students felt the grades were subjective and arbitrary.
The state recently eliminated the project as a mandatory graduation requirement, but it allowed individual districts to decide whether they wanted to comply. Most opted out, but Granite Falls High School in Snohomish County did not.
Granite Falls seniors Michael Turpin and Reuben Campbell are now on a mission to change that. They've collected signatures from the majority of their 146 member senior class, asking the school board to do away with the project for good.
"It stresses us out," said Campbell. "It directly conflicts with (Advanced Placement) testing, so people often have to decide whether to study for their AP tests or do their senior project. Also, out in Granite Falls, we don't have access to businesses for job shadows. We have to go to Everett or Bellevue or Seattle."
In 2014, the state legislature abandoned the culminating project because it deemed students' time would be better spent doing other things, like working part-time jobs. In Granite Falls, administrators believe the project is a good stepping stone to help students transition from high school to the real world.
"That is a 100% valid point, but the way they're doing it is wrong," said Turpin. "The projects create unneeded stress, and a lot of students don't even take it seriously."
When Campbell is asked how he responds to those who might say he and Turpin are just a couple of whining millennials, he said they weren’t whining.
"We're fighting for what we believe in,” Campbell said. “We're being independent thinkers, which is something that our school pushes."
Campbell and Turpin bring their arguments to the school board on December 7.
A school district spokesperson said even if the students do convince the board to eliminate the project, the change would only affect this year's freshman class and younger.