Driving hard to finish senior final projects

Teo Bagnoli’s go-kart sits completed in his garage, waiting to be displayed in the senior showcase.
Photo Courtesy of: Teo Bagnoli

As RAHS seniors rapidly approach the end of the year and graduation, the select few who have chosen to participate in the Senior Showcase are wrapping up their projects before their presentations. But with too few putting forth projects for the Showcase, they may not get the chance.

Teo Bagnoli has been designing and building a Go-Kart for his submission to this year’s Senior Showcase.

“I set up the frame design myself, and it’s constructed from square tube aluminium in the interest of weight reduction,” said Bagnoli. “The whole kart is going to weigh under 150 lbs in the end and it should be a lot of fun to drive.”

Initially, Bagnoli planned on building the Go-Kart as a way to improve his automotive knowledge and create his own vehicle.

“I chose to submit the Go-Kart because I was already planning to build it,” said Bagnoli, “and I realized I could also submit it as my senior project.”

While enrolled in the CAD course now taught by Mr. Gudor, Bagnoli designed models of the kart he wanted to build before assembling it at home. Despite some help and a CAD design, there were still some issues along the way.

“There have been a lot of small issues along the way, such as linking the throttle and mounting the steering,” says Bagnoli, “but they’ve all been caused by improper planning on my part.”

Although the requirement for senior projects has not existed for several years, Bagnoli believes removing the requirement has increased the quality of the projects submitted.

“If they’re mandatory, the quality of submissions would definitely be worse,” said Bagnoli. “Voluntary leaves the opportunity out there for those who want to do it but doesn’t force them.”

Humanities teacher Ms. Wombold also believes that making the senior project optional has created both benefits and drawbacks.

“Participation has gone dramatically down,” says Wombold, “but the projects have been ones that are authentic to the student.”

Although having quality and interesting projects has been beneficial, low participation from students has become an ever increasing issue.

“We have too few students right now to do a showcase,” said Wombold, “unless I have more seniors sign up, the showcase will not happen.”

With the current number of students at 8 and a minimum of 10 needed, the showcase–and the scholarship opportunities it presents–may vanish.

“The method in which the scholarship is selected requires a presentation,” says Wombold. “Without a method of presentation like the showcase, there won’t be a scholarship award.”

Although the potential for total discontinuation seems a very real problem, Wombold doesn’t know what else could be changed.

“There’s no paperwork, you don’t have to get projects approved,” said Wombold, “they [PTSA] want to support what you’re doing, they’ll even give you up to $50 to get your project started.”

Wombold strongly encourages students to sign up for senior projects this year and hopefully the next year as well, before the opportunity completely disappears.

“There’s no requirement for subject matter,” said Wombold, “there’s nothing to do except a project you’re already going to do and that you’re passionate about.”

Seniors like Teo Bagnoli will continue to work on their projects as the Senior Showcase still hangs in the balance, hoping that last year’s will not be the final iteration of Senior Projects.

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