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A sampling of senior projects: Part II

Each year, Greenhills seniors finish their Upper School careers with senior projects — an opportunity for students to pursue deep, independent dives into subjects they find fascinating.This year, all the projects culminated in presentations at the Senior Project Festival June 1. Here is a second batch of noteworthy examples — with more to come:

Laura Watson: Work in Progress

stack-of-booksDuring the time allotted for my senior project I completed a novel that I have been working on for the last four years. Using the guidance of my mentor and sponsor Head of School Carl Pelofsky, I made edits and reached a final draft. In my presentation I will discuss how I have gone about writing the same novella for so long. I will address the hardships (and the easy things) about writing a novella. I will of course summarize my story before addressing its development over time, including changes I chose to make as I grew older. I will discuss how setting influences writing in an important way. I will address anorexia as it is the disease that my character has. While working on my project, I consulted another mentor, Maria Beye, an eating disorder specialist, in order to determine if my depiction of the disease is accurate. I will discuss where my depiction strays from reality and any artistic liberties I chose to take (including why). Throughout the process of writing this story I have learned not only about writing but about research, and adhering to reality. I have learned about character development and how to write a character oriented story. Finally I will close with an excerpt from my story.


The most crucial thing I learned was how to share my writing. Yes I have shared my writing with friends, but sharing my writing with Mr. Pelofsky was understandably more nerve-wracking. However, one has to share their writing in order for it to improve. Once I did share my writing, I found Mr. Pelofsky’s feedback to be very helpful, and a nice guide to orienting my presentation. … Ultimately, this story has been my life for the last four years. It is my biggest accomplishment. This presentation was a cathartic way to end not only my time with this story, but my time in high school; for that I am incredibly grateful.

Danny Markel: Fundamentals of Grassroots Political Campaign

boaterFor my project I spent a week volunteering as a canvasser for Planned Parenthood’s “Michigan Women Are Watching” Campaign. During my week I would work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. going to different neighborhoods in the Washtenaw County area, knocking on doors, and speaking to registered voters about  Michigan Speaker of the House Jase Bolger. We were specifically targeting him by telling voters about the laws he has been passing restricting a woman’s ability to choose what is right for her body. While this was a tough job, I chose to do this for my project because it is a cause I believe in and I wanted to do something meaningful. I was interested in how political campaigns are run and how the information is spread. Most of all, I wanted to do a project that I felt was important and something that could make a difference. Throughout the process I learned a lot about politics and the way that a grassroots campaign works. This campaign relies heavily on volunteers and donations; as a canvasser I was a part of that process. I was also able to talk to many different people during my time, and while not all were supporters, it was still interesting to hear what they had to say and compare their opinions. This experience was not only a way for me to learn about politics, it was also a way for me to go outside of my comfort zone. I was not able to be shy when walking to the doors: I had to be confident and not be afraid to talk to people I didn’t know. While this was scary at first, I was able to push past it and work hard for the cause.


This was the first time that I was ever really involved in politics. I was able to learn more about what is happening in Michigan and in the country as a whole. I learned a lot about recent laws being passed as well as the politicians who are fighting for women’s rights and those who aren’t. It was also interesting to learn about how campaigns, through organizations like Planned Parenthood, are run. I was able to see how this campaign really came out of an idea and the hard work of volunteers and people who believe in the cause. Before, I had not realized that really much of what drives grassroots campaigns is the determination of others and not things like money or power. … Overall, this was a very enjoyable and rewarding experience that served as a great end to my career at Greenhills.”

Natalie Golota/Alix Morrison: Extreme Couponing

couponingFor our senior project, we chose to go extreme couponing for charity.  We used manufacturer coupons in addition to store sales to get items for little to no out of pocket cost.  We both had watched the TLC show “Extreme Couponing” and were curious about how feasible this type of couponing really is. We were amazed that common products could be “purchased” for free at stores such as Kroger, Meijer, Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS.  While most couponers on the TLC show created large stockpiles for their families, we decided to donate all of our purchases to the Ronald McDonald House.  We set a goal to donate $300 worth of items over the course of three weeks.  By the end of three weeks we had amassed $437.45 worth of items for which we paid $64.17 (tax included).  Items purchased include toothbrushes, mouthwash, pasta, soup, toothpaste, aspirin, deodorant, shampoo, and granola bars.  We learned a great deal about organization and how to cooperate with all types of people.  Our success was dependent on weekly store sales and cashiers’ cooperation.  Overall, this project was very successful in providing the Ronald McDonald House with personal items and food products.


After purchasing $437.45 worth of items for $54.27, we donated items such as deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, pasta, soup, and granola bars to the Ronald McDonald House. During this project we learned a great deal about organization and being responsible consumers. This project was dependent upon our ability to plan the weekly shopping trips and budget both money and coupons for these trips. This required rigorous organization, which was done through spreadsheets and weekly coupon separation. We also learned how much everyday items truly cost and how much money is required to maintain a family. This has helped us become more knowledgeable consumers and appreciative of our own resources and lifestyles. …

This project could have been improved with a longer time period of coupon collection and use. … To improve the presentation, we could have filmed an exciting checkout scene to let the audience experience the stresses and joys of couponing.

Stephanie Uduji: Building My First Website

interwebsFor my senior project, I hand-coded an HTML website for a nonprofit organization called Hirah Health Systems, Inc. This organization is comprised of three group homes that house residents who have mental illnesses, are developmentally disabled, have a traumatic brain injury, or are physically handicapped. The goal of this organization is to “help the residents become self-sufficient by attaining their individual level of optimal independence and improved self esteem to be able to function successfully in the community.” My interest in computer science and curiosity spurred me to choose this as my senior project. I had never created a website or webpage before (or had any experience in the required programming languages: HTML/CSS, javascript, etc.), so this was a valuable learning experience that required motivation and focus. My mentors, Brock Boddie and Jan Toth-Chernin, guided me through this journey and helped me stay focused with their advice. As a specialist in web and digital development at Huge, a digital agency in New York, Brock Boddie offered invaluable advice from finding a starting point to naming the website. As a faculty member of Greenhills School and the designer of the school website, Jan also offered vital information about my website in terms of content, design, and function.


My initial plans included having the website contain information about the company (services, goals, locations, etc), and I also planned on including multiple web pages for this website (such as contact information, about the organization, etc.) and a picture gallery. After completing my proposal, I formed an initial plan with my mentor, Brock Boddie, who is a web and digital specialist at Huge, Inc.  … With the aid of my mentor, Brock Boddie, my sponsor, Jan Toth-Chernin, and the resources I found online, I was able to accomplish all of the goals I established. I finished designing the website and was able to showcase it in my presentation by using a web browser. I did end up finding a web hosting provider (Dreamhost) that offers free services to nonprofit organizations, so the website (is) accessible via the web address,

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.