When Trey Garcia’s father first laid eyes on his son’s senior project, he was speechless. While the projects can be a subject of hot debate, Gary Garcia was impressed by the crowning achievement of Trey’s senior year of high school. The seven community members who served as volunteer judges at Trey Garcia’s oral presentation last week were equally wowed.
Since 2000, every senior at Sonoma Valley High School has been required to successfully complete a senior project in order to graduate. Seniors who don’t pass don’t graduate with their class and may have to make up parts of their project in summer school.
Like many other seniors, Trey Garcia found it stressful to juggle the commitments of the project while in the midst of college applications and his normally busy schedule. In addition to being a permanent figure on the honor roll, running cross country and swimming for the Dragons, Trey Garcia worked for his father’s electrical business all four years of high school. He did juggle it all, however, and he is off to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the fall, to study construction management.
The hardest part of the process for Trey Garcia was choosing his senior project topic last fall. “It was the first time I had completely free choice in school, so I really gave it a lot of thought,” he said. His metal and wood shop classes provided his favorite moments at the school, so he knew that he wanted to use his 20 mandatory project hours to build something with his hands. While working for his father at an electrical job for a major Bay Area advertising agency over the summer, he got the idea to do his research paper on advertising and to build his father’s business a double-sided, lighted metal sign for his senior project.
In the moments prior to his presentation time slot last week, Trey Garcia was reviewing his notes outside room J1. That final piece of the process is perhaps the most nerve-racking. In it, students describe their “learning stretch” and demonstrate what they have accomplished in a 20-minute presentation to a panel of judges. Then, they are evaluated on both content and style.