Capstone Projects: BV seniors focus on community service
Berryville High School seniors presented their Capstone projects Tuesday, Dec. 11, in the Old Rock Gym, explaining to visitors at their booths the intended impact of their projects.
Capstone adviser Chandra High said the theme of this year’s projects was to inspire or make a change in the community.
“Their projects had to have a service component,” High said. “Most of them chose to do things on one of our campuses as volunteering.”
She said the seniors have been working on the Capstone projects since September.
Seniors Daniella Estrada and Samantha Medina said they organized “Project Hope” to help out the Berryville Free Store on the Public Square.
“We were going to help the free store by fixing some of the structural damage they had,” Estrada said, “but, with some of the complications and roadblocks we had, we couldn’t quite do that.”
After the store was robbed of about $6,000 worth of items in November, she said they decided to set up a donation box at the high school to collect clothing and other gifts to help make up the difference.
Medina said time management was one of the biggest challenges with the project.
“Last year, they had the whole year to finish [Capstone projects], but this year we had half a year,” she said. “It was really hard to find the proper time. They were only open two times a week. There were communication issues.”
“We were trying to find time to do the construction work,” Estrada said, “but there was no time to do that. So when they got robbed, we decided ‘Let’s pick that up. We can do that really quickly, and it’s more helpful to them.’ ”
Medina said knowing that they’re helping the community and low-income families has been the most rewarding part of the Capstone project.
“The smallest thing makes the biggest difference,” Estrada said. “If we can help out just the smallest bit, it makes us feel better.”
Senior Kimberly Fritz said her project “The Help” was about encouraging people who are struggling with mental health issues like depression, anxiety and panic attacks to seek out help.
“I wanted to encourage them to ask for help because growing up with it,” she said, “it really helped me to ask for help and go to counseling.”
Fritz said she spoke to four middle school classes as part of her project, sharing her story, statistics on mental health, warning signs to look out for in friends and family and resources students can turn to for help.
“I could see in their eyes that some of them wanted help,” she said, “but they were too afraid to ask. Getting to know the kids a little bit was the best part.”
To demonstrate the effects of bullying, Fritz said she had the students write down something they like on a piece of paper and give it to someone else.
“I told them to crumble it up and hand it back to the person who wrote it to let them unravel it,” she said. “I explained that the piece of paper will never go back to being the straight piece of paper it was and how it being crumbled up is like being bullied. I think that opened their eyes.”
Seniors Kymmie Conard and Emily Battin said their project “Blue Bots” aimed to help younger kids raise their problem-solving abilities to prepare them for the ACT. Conard said they used Blue Bots, toy robots that help teach kids basic coding.
“It helps with the beginning steps of coding,” Battin said, “and teaches problem-solving skills, which helps with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). That area is a lot of people’s lowest score on the ACT.”
“We would put the Blue Bots on mats and go from easy coding challenges to harder programming as they mastered each one,” Conard said. “For example, we’d have them go to the green square without touching any other green things and stuff like that. It helped them figure out the best and fastest way to do it.”
Battin and Conard said one challenge was keeping the kids’ attention.
“I think being with the kids and watching them learn and get better was rewarding to see,” Conard said. “We wanted to help other generations improve their scores because it helps them with their futures.”
“Hopefully, that will help,” Battin said.
Seniors Alexis Steele, Jared Soto and Jayro Ramirez said their project “The Power of Music” explored how music can help people both mentally and physically.
“The most challenging part was doing the research to see everything music does to your body,” Steele said. “It was rewarding to find out how it helps you medically, like lowering blood pressure.”
Soto said he really connected with the project because he is a musician.
“I learned some things that I had not even thought about,” he said, “and that’s what we were trying to do with the public, too. We wanted to show the different ways music makes us feel and behave and how we can go one more step than how we think.”
“My favorite part was connecting with them and the public on how music can help mentally,” Ramirez said. “It was fun to see everyone’s opinion on it.”
Seniors Jaylen Simon, Karla Perez and Wyatt Poe said their project “It’s a Wonderful Life” collected toys for low-income families whose kids would not get Christmas present otherwise.
“We collected Christmas toys from K-5,” Simon said. “We filled three big boxes and six to 10 smaller boxes. We had the little boxes in 3-5, and the principal told us that was a low expectation and that we should have higher expectations.”
She said they listened to the feedback and took a bigger box to the intermediate school.
“Three big boxes were completely full when we were done,” Simon said. “It was so nice.”
Poe said one of their problems in the beginning was that they didn’t have high expectations for the kids.
“Once we sent flyers home, that’s when the toys starting coming in,” he said. “[Elementary principal] Kelly Swofford said ‘Why don’t you send home flyers?’ He said they weren’t good enough the first time, so we shortened it down and got to the point.”
Poe continued, “After we did that, he said it was good, and we sent them home. Three weeks later, the collection boxes were completely full.”
Perez said the most challenging part was time management.
“We had two weeks to get everything set up and planned out, the flyers ready and the boxes ready,” she said. “We were running around like crazy trying to get it all together.”
Poe said the most rewarding part was holding a dance party for the fifth-graders for collecting the most toys.
“They had a good time,” he said.
“We wanted to bring back the Christmas spirit,” Perez said. “I feel like it’s been dying out. That’s what we wanted to get in the kids’ heads. It’s better to give than receive because you can make somebody’s day so much better by giving them such a small present.”
“The fact that we’ll be giving them to kids who don’t even know they don’t have enough,” Simon said, “is the most rewarding part to me. It will be so heartwarming to make someone else’s day.”