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A Sampling of ‘Impressive’ 2012 Senior Projects

Each year, the last gasp of Greenhills seniors’ academic energy is spent on senior projects — a unique aspect of a Greenhills education that provides seniors with the opportunity to pursue knowledge independently. All projects culminated in an oral presentation or performance at the Project Festival on Thursday, May 24.

“As a whole this year’s group of senior projects was very impressive,” says 12th grade class principal Bruce Zellers.

Following is just a sampling of this year’s senior projects.

Hanna Anderson, Maddie Csere, Chris Owyang, Jakob Rodseth, Maddy Walsh, Alex Wozniak – Money Never Sleeps (Except When We Do)

Our project afforded us a unique and genuinely interesting experience that not only gave us a new understanding of a deeply important economic entity, but also peaked our interest to the world of business. Exploring the stock market and competing with each other in a virtual investment game at first seemed like a project that would both be interesting and not overly taxing. However, after only a few days, we were knee deep in analyst data, struggling with a wave of fear rocking the market because of the crisis in Europe, and frantically trying to understand what seemed to violate the laws of reality; why was Pepsi on the rise while Coca-Cola was crashing.

Along the way we found our footing, and soon enough we were making more and more trades with a green bottom line. We started to grasp some of the intricacies involved in the technical aspects of trading as well as thinking of new reasons why we might want to buy certain stocks, such as seasonal stocks like home depot. We also had to research social and political events such as the French election, and had to decide how those events would influence the market. In the end, we realized that the stock market was something that had its roots in almost every aspect of human society. We also realized that day trading, the most extreme form of short term investment, was a highly infeasible. In other words, although we were making better trades, it was still a game of “who can lose the least amount of money.”

Maddy Bell/Anna Forringer-Beal – Starting a Bakery

Maddy Bell/Anna Forringer-Beal - Starting a BakeryAs a way for us to give back to the school we are about to graduate from, we started Bell and Beal Baked Goods. Through this pseudo-company, we set out to learn about baking and raise money for the Senior Class Gift. Having only a limited amount of experience in the kitchen, both of us were truly starting from scratch.  It was important to us to try recipes from around the world instead of just baking the same desserts we have had our entire lives. We tried recipes for Jewish Rugalah, French Sables, Norwegian Pepper cookies, Persian Poppy Seed cookies, Italian Biscotti, Russian Tea Cakes, Scottish Shortbread, and Southern Pumpkin Spice cookies. As a test of our abilities, we donated eight dozen cookies to the May choir concert reception. Because our cookies were so well received, we had the confidence to continue on to our big objective. Our goal was to create a tasty and multi-cultural spread at the Artisan Market. After bagging twenty-two dozen cookies, we took a page from the Girl Scouts and sold them to raise money for Class of 2012 endowment. Even though we were nervous that our sale would not be successful, we raised enough money to pay for the ingredients and to donate to the class gift. The cherry on top was getting invited back to the Artisan Market this summer!

Matt Fligiel – Writing a T.V. Episode

For my senior project, I wrote an episode of the television show Archer, which airs on
FX. As someone who had never written a screenplay before, writing this episode posed several challenges and opportunities for learning. I undertook this project because I have enjoyed comedy writing (and I have written several skits for the annual student run comedy show, Voodoo), but I had never had a chance to write a full episode of television before. Under the mentorship of Jef Cozza, who has written award-winning short stories and screenplays, I learned about some of the important characteristics of a show I must take into consideration when writing a ‘spec script’ for it, as well as how to create a proper outline for an episode, and finally turn that outline into a script. All in all, I would say that my senior project was a success. I learned a lot, wrote a screenplay that I am proud of, and had quite a good time doing so. Hopefully, the people at FX and Archer like my screenplay as well – if they do, let’s hope to see “Community Service Day” as an episode of Archer next season!

Thane Feldeisen – Haiti Mission

For my senior project, I was blessed to go on a medical mission trip to Haiti. I was able to assist doctors in seeing over 1,400 patients, and I brought down a fruit dehydrator and gave it to a pastor because they have no way of drying or keeping fruit. I did whatever the doctors needed; my roles included: crowd control, assisting doctors with surgeries (e.g., on feet and arms), giving clothes and toys to children, taking blood sugar and blood pressure measurements, and various other tasks. Obviously going back to Haiti again and bringing more fruit dehydrators would be a good way to follow up, and hopefully I will be able to go back many more times.

Corinne Gardiner – Architecture Sparks

Corinne Gardiner - Architecture SparksGoogle, Lego, Nike, and Oakley are well-known companies that have earned their reputations through quality products. People instantly recognize them by their colorful and ubiquitous logos. However, most people do not realize that these companies have consciously designed their work environments to fit the culture of their employees in an attempt to facilitate creativity. After visiting workplaces that foster idea flow, I was intrigued to learn how familiar architectural features like communal lounges, flexible floor plans, and sufficient natural lighting can revive a workplace and enhance innovation. I was fortunate to spend three weeks working with landscape architect and urban designer Michael Johnson at SmithGroupJJR to investigate how these corporations built workplaces that stimulate thought, encourage play, and promote chance interactions. Greenhills’ upper school shares some of the architectural themes and principles that make these professional headquarters thrive. Students and their ideas reflect the culture and work environment at Greenhills like new products from these famous corporate brands. Since architecture has proven to reinforce creativity in highly successful businesses, Greenhills has the potential to improve its workspace to encourage greater collaboration, original thinking, and play.

Jill Hakim & Katherine Selwa:  The Completely Historically Inaccurate Adventures of Faraday and his Exceedingly Odd Friends:  A webcomic and an animated short

Michael Faraday, Mark Twain, and Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevski were all very bright people who lived around the same century, never met each other, and were very influential in the scientific, literary, and mathematical communities, respectively.  However, they died having taken part in dreadfully little swashbuckling and adventuring.  We thought this was a terrible shame.  We decided to remedy this crime of history by writing a webcomic in which they are a dynamic trio who save the world time and time again with help from a host of other characters who have been taken out of their rightful place in history and fiction for the sake of our tale.  We also created a brief animated filmmade from scratch in Blender featuring one of the minor characters—the loveable manservant Igor. At our presentation we gave a behind-the-scenes look into the drawing and creation of the comic as well as a brief introduction to modeling and animation in Blender.

Sarah Higdon – To Profit or not to Profit, Vet is the Question

For my senior project I spent my time exploring the working world through possible careers in the veterinarian field. The first week I shadowed at the All Creatures Animal Clinic, learning more about how their business functioned and life there as a veterinarian. The second week I volunteered at the Humane Society of Huron Valley, exploring the nonprofit side of animal care world. I have always loved animals and science, so quite obviously, becoming a veterinarian is something that has crossed my mind. I believe that in my two weeks spent working with animals I got a greater sense of the demands of the jobs, as well as knowledge about the animals themselves.

Isabel Maier – Detroit SWIMS

Every day 10 people in the U.S. die from accidental drowning, a fifth are children. fAlmost 100% of them could be prevented with simple swim education. Minorities in urban settings, such as Detroit, are three times more likely to drown. Detroit SWIMS address the problem head on. Created just last year, Detroit SWIMS provides free eight-week swim lessons to unprivileged children living in Detroit. By the end of the lessons, 92 percent of kids can pass a basic swim test deeming them proficient. The program does much more than just teach, it also provided swimsuits to children who would never been able to afford them otherwise. I decided to work on my senior project as a volunteer for this program. A massive amount of work goes on behind the scenes. Securing a pool, hiring instructors, organizing transportation, collecting swim suits, gathering donors and creating curriculum are just a few of the dozens of tasks needed to be done for the program to work as smoothly as it does. I was able to help in some of these tasks. This experience has allowed me a glance at what life is without basic necessities, and has created a profound appreciation for all the opportunities I have received.

Olivia Post – Can You Hear Me Now:  Launching a Career in Voiceover

Olivia Post - Can You Hear Me Now:  Launching a Career in VoiceoverDoing my Senior Project allowed me to understand so much more of the voiceover business then I knew before. On the technical side, I learned how to make undesirable mouth sounds (like a breath, or a gasp) go away when I was editing
my reel (they look like little squiggly lines, and you can take a “pencil-like tool” and draw a rounded line right over it!). I also learned how to make background noises softer, by inverting the frequency in the editing stage. Aesthetically, I learned how
to change the tone in my voice from sounding like a teenage girl, to a soothing fairy godmother. I also picked up some tips on what to do, and what questions to ask when you’re interviewing your superiors. In working with JoBe Cerny (who is most known as the Pillsbury Dough Boy), I successfully recorded and sent out a demo to
agencies – which I’m already hearing positive things back from. I now feel prepared
for the interviews I’ll have to go to if I wish to pursue voiceover as a career!

Kit Randolph – Service:  Global Change on an Individual Level

On a trip to Washington, D.C., I learned about a variety of public service professions. After speaking with several Greenhills alumni, including Valentina Stackl, Julia Martin, Christina Cody, Alice Garabrant, and Eugene Kang, I learned the thing that I had hoped to learn about public service—that it is not a hopeless pursuit. I didn’t want to learn a specific skill, or about what it is like to work in one specific sector or on one specific issue. What I learned was greater than that. My jaded generation is wrong about change. While looking at the political world with a grain of salt and eyes wide open is not unadvised, writing off the process of change just because it is difficult is no way to create the world you want to live in. I found hope again in these interviews. Every person can be a tiny wheel in the machine of forward motion, and while this is often even harder than being a big wheel, it means just as much, if not more.

Kristen Raskauskas – Local Animal Conservation

Kristen Raskauskas - Local Animal ConservationI learned about how the Exotic Pet Trade impacts Howell Nature Center. While doing my project I learned about the various exotic pet laws, and some of the mistakes people make when dealing with wildlife when attempting to help. I also learned about how much work goes into running a charity-based Animal Rehab facility, as well as how to properly interact with injured wildlife. I loved doing this project and I am actually continuing my volunteering there throughout the summer.

Max Sergent & Alec Tirtha – Corny Car Conversion

Max Sergent & Alec Tirtha - Corny Car ConversionAs the topic of senior projects came to fruition, we both knew which road we wanted to travel down — quite literally, in fact. The concept of finding an effective alternate source of fuel was intriguing, so decided to transform a 1982 Mercedes Benz 300sd to run primarily on vegetable oil frequently found in local restaurants and food chains.  While completing this project we put knowledge of both mechanical and electrical engineering to the test.  Understanding the engineering concepts of the project was not easy, but with the help of Larry Ward, our out-of-school mentor who worked for General Motors, we got the job done.  Although there were many “kinks in the hose” as one would say, the oil now runs efficiently.

Eric Vasey – Of Apps and Androids

Eric Vasey - Of Apps and AndroidsIf you own a smartphone, I am sure you use many different apps – programs designed to utilize the capabilities of your smartphone in ingenious ways. Some smartphone owners come up with useful app ideas. As a smartphone owner and budding software programmer, I find myself wanting to act on my ideas, to turn them into functional mobile phone apps. The goal of my senior project was to get the tools and skill set necessary to enter the world of mobile app development. To do this, I created six mobile phone apps that run on the Android operating system. I honed my skills on a learning set of five apps which included an Input/Output Test, Tip Calculator, Game of Zuul, Yahtzee, and Conway’s Game of Life. The sixth, most complex app was designed for our school community; it allows valid users to login to Greenhouse (a Greenhills website used by students, parents, and staff) to display their class schedules, homework assignments, and inbox/outbox messages.

Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.