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RHS Seniors Declare, Share Their Potential Career Focus
Riverbank High School senior Megan Seta declared her senior project to be on Social Services. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Riverbank High School (RHS) has continued with its tradition of having seniors complete a very extensive, detailed Senior Project to graduate. In order to prepare for this meticulous project, students have several steps to follow that began with ‘D-Day’ on Oct. 12. On that day, students presented a letter of intent, a poster, and a speech declaring the topic for their senior project, outlining the project for teachers, peers and administrative officials, all of which they are graded on.

D-Day stands for ‘Declaration Day’ and the event was hosted last week in the library at Riverbank High School. Once the students make their project declaration they are not allowed to change it. Seniors were asked to wear black business attire on this year’s D-Day.

“This is important because sometimes they struggle finding information, or finding a place to job shadow, but they aren’t allowed to abandon their projects just because they become difficult but rather work as best they can to find a solution,” explained English teacher Nancy Garcia on why it is so important not to change the focus of the senior project.

According to Garcia, the senior projects first began in 2001 when RHS had a program called Project Riverbank which was a school-to-career program. She added that the principal at the time liked how well the students presented their projects and decided that all students should be required to do one.

The seniors took turns at the D-day, one by one, walking up to the podium with their boards declaring the focus of their senior project which included careers like game design, teaching, registered nurse, social worker, counselor, computer engineering, law enforcement, probation officer, veterinarian, mechanic, environmental science, and business management to name a few.

“A large number of students are choosing careers that are service oriented,” stated Garcia. “Most of the students chose careers in health, social work, and teaching.

“One young man chose a career in politics and played the ‘Hail to the Chief’ song as he walked up to the podium.”

English teacher Adam Erro had his senior English IV class perform their D-Day duties during fourth period.

“What stood out to me was how nervous many students were in the days before presenting, but then they were almost all very poised, articulate, and detailed when giving their D-Day speeches,” noted Erro. “Most of the choices did not particularly surprise me, although I am seeing more students focusing on technology and how their career choices are affected by technology, particularly computer and information tech.”

Senior Maria Nuno expressed that selecting a career was difficult for her because she did not know what to select; however, she felt very confident giving her presentation.

“The best part that I like about D-Day was how everybody seemed pretty confident with saying their speeches, and everything went well,” stated Nuno. “I’m looking forward to having a great senior year and receiving good grades.”

Selecting computer animation was senior Andres Mora, who did not find the D-Day very difficult at all.

“I have always been interested in computer animation and visual effects since I was in middle school and have always been focused,” added Mora. “I have also picked up a new interest in film and photography as my high school career is ending.

“I feel like my presentation went very well and as planned. It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be; I was comfortable and pretty confident.”

After each student completed their presentation during D-Day they raised their right hand and pledged not to plagiarize during the course of completing their project. This pledge has been a part of D-Day since the senior project started; the pledge created by a senior English teacher back then that wanted a commitment from her students that they would be dedicated to learning about their topic and not cheat.

Being passionate about education, senior Ireneo Aguiniga did not find it difficult to select a career focus for her senior project.

“I felt comfortable and pressure free about my presentation,” said Aguiniga.  “I feel as if I did a phenomenal job. My favorite part was watching and hearing all of my friends talk about their career choices.”

Senior Edgar Garcia had a hard time selecting a career with the pressure of not being able to change it.

“I felt very good giving my presentation because the practice speech during class really prepared me for D-Day,” stated Garcia. “The best part about D-Day was finishing the speech.”

The students will be tasked to job shadow someone in the career field they selected so that they have worksite experience.

“I truly think it is a great example of not only what our students are capable of, but also a good introduction and preparation for life after high school and the work world, or what most people like to call ‘real life’,” expressed Erro.

“The students did an outstanding job declaring their projects,” stated Garcia. “They were prepared with topics and had already done some preliminary research on careers prior to starting their senior year.

“Many of the seniors who have graduated from RHS have returned and commented on how much this project has helped them. They comment on how much they learned about researching a topic, writing a six-page MLA research paper and how focused they were leaving RHS having learned about a career they could possibly be entering.”