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RHS Spotlight - Seniors Preview Projects
Sitting at tables piled high with displays, charts and binders, Riverbank High School seniors and their projects virtually took over the front quad when the school hosted its open house on Thursday evening.

Esteban Ramirez had one of the best visual displays. He was showing a miniature, metal tractor that he had designed himself, put together with numerous welds and painted, of course, in the familiar John Deere colors of green and yellow.

His binder explained the different types of welding and the best methods for tackling different situations. Ramirez will be looking for a career in welding once he graduates.

All seniors graduating this spring have to produce a project as part of their graduation. It must involve both a written research paper and a community event on a subject they find of interest, perhaps indicative of a future career.

More than a hundred students will be displaying their projects and explaining them before groups of judges drawn from the community on May 16. The presentation will also hone their ability to present their views clearly and briefly before strangers, a situation they will soon encounter in the working world.

Not far from Ramirez, Jessenia Martinez had a display on the "History of females in the Navy." Interested at the time in joining the Navy, she had discovered in her research that women can now serve on all kinds of warships except submarines that have exceptionally cramped quarters even for warships. Her practical project involved assembling care packages for 50 sailors on deployment. However, her interest has now waned and she is thinking about a criminal justice career.

Tyler Brouillard had studied pollution in the Stanislaus River, led a group of students to clean up trash along its banks and looked into how pollutants flowing into it harm the fish and other wildlife.

"As a kid I used to swim in the river," he said. "But I often got sick so I decided to look into cleaning up the water."

Brenda Gonzalez has researched diseases that commonly affect children and for her practical project visited the children's hospital in Madera.

"There was not much I could do to assist medical and nursing staff," she said. "But I'm a ballet folklorico dancer. So I dressed up and did dances for them. They were delighted. Some of those kids hardly ever set foot outside the hospital. They are lonely and bored."

Another senior, Monica Martinez, was enthused about having a school social worker (job currently held by Claudia Puebla) and had researched the variety of assistance they give students from "helping us focus on our work to keeping us out of trouble." For a community project, she organized a "Valentine's Day social" at the local nursing home.