Freshmen conquer first high school project

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Daisy Landeros tackles her first major assignment, the 9th Grade Eco-Project, delivering her speech to a board of her peers on Monday the 13th. Photo CreditL Alison English/The Foothill Dragon Press.

Foothill freshmen presented the 9th Grade Project, a required grade level biome presentation, Monday after school in front of rooms of peers and assessors.

Students attending Foothill are required to complete specific grade level projects each year. For seniors, this would be the Hero Project, but for freshmen, this happens to be the 9th Grade Eco-Project.

The 9th Grade Project was introduced 10 years ago when Foothill was first established. It was originally English oriented but was changed a few years ago to focus on Biology.

This year’s eco-project started with the question of how the daily human life affects our biosphere. Students were urged, “to think globally about the human footprint… [left] on our biosphere” and are challenged “to act locally and make a difference” of the time span of three months.

Students were required to research their specific topic, make a collage of images relating to it, and write speeches to deliver. Those speeches identify with their biome and two environmental concerns- an environmental issue and the fate to an endangered species found in that biome as well as an action plan to prevent further destruction of that biome and its creatures.

As students frantically prepared for their presentations during lunch, teachers and assessors congregated into Spirito Hall for a complimentary lunch and to receive a quick tutorial on how to grade the projects and presenters.

Students were graded on the quality of the content, delivery of the speech, their collages, length of speech, and attire of the presenter. Parts of the project are included as a grade in Biology, EDA, English, and Health classes.

During lunch, teachers and assessors were given the opportunity to practice with the grading rubric by listening to freshman Veronica Mellring’s speech on the Amazon Rainforest and what the effects of slashing and burning have on the three-toed sloth living in this biome.

Mellring acted as the demonstration speaker and set the mood for the other presentations to be seen that day.

As students awaited their assessors outside their classrooms, many students felt the anxiety building up.

Valeria Franco-Brito said, “I feel nervous and happy I suppose. I had lots of practice, and have memorized parts of it [the speech].”

“Is she a hard grader? I hope she is not a hard grader,” said freshman Joshua Fabiszak minutes before he presented his speech.

While students and assessors made their way to their presenting rooms, adrenaline levels were peaking. Students were calming themselves and shaking off their nerves as they entered the rooms.

Students presented in alphabetical order and delivered a variety of speeches ranging from the Arctic Tundra to African Grasslands. Students hesitantly would walk to the front of the room, quickly prepping themselves for their speeches.

Anxiety filled the room as students began speaking but slowly leveled off as they progressed into the depths of their speech.

Moments after the presenters finished their speeches, their faces would break into smiles as they had just tackled their first major high school project.

Glenda Marshall who received much respect from her audience said, “It was stressful, I was shaking for the first 30 seconds or so, but I got over it. I think I did well, I think I got my message across which was my goal. The questions they asked were fair, too.”

As students gleefully escaped to the front of the school to go home afterwards, teachers Ryan Duston and Darcy Perez as well as current senior Biotech students stayed behind to tally up final scores in the D-Pod and placed them onto a spreadsheet for all of the teachers.

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