The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Students Expand Horizons With Hands-on Senior Projects

With the school year nearing the end, it’s time to look back on some of this year’s intriguing senior projects. Seniors Emily Rubin, Blaine Dzwonczyk and Emily Cheng were commended by staff for being some of the many students to put together especially interesting or impressive projects.

Emily Rubin’s project is on sweatshop labor and its implications on both the economy and those involved in it. Sweatshops are factories in violation of labor laws with generally poor and unjust working conditions.

“I interviewed a Stanford Business School Professor of Economics and through my interview and research, I came up with my thesis, which was that sweatshop labor is horrible for humanity because of the lives and livelihoods it takes away,” Emily Rubin said. “But it cannot be made illegal or taken away all at once because its roots in the economy would cause our economy to crash because with a sudden removal of sweatshops — prices of apparel would rise too fast for consumers to keep up,”

Emily Rubin decided the the best solution would be to increase consumer awareness. She felt that the best way that the government could fight unjust labor would be to teach consumers the results of their actions.

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“If more people knew where their clothing was coming from, the result would be more supportive of free trade goods because people are willing to pay more to act morally, as free trade clothing is more expensive than clothing produced in a sweatshop,” Emily Rubin said.

After her research paper, Emily Rubin decided to do the hands-on portion of her project on consumer education. She created a slideshow intended to educate her fellow classmates about sweatshop labor and which companies ought to be supported. She has gone into various classrooms and will continue to do so, presenting her slideshow and discussing why this form of labor is so bad.

“I hope to provoke students at our school to think carefully and ask questions or research where their clothing is coming from so they know exactly who is at loss for their shopping transactions,” Emily Rubin said.

Blaine Dzwonczyk focused her project on the rites of passage for teenagers. Blaine went on to research these traditions as well as ways to restore significant rites of passage applicable to the modern American teenager. Her hands-on entailed her going on a hike up Black Mountain by herself.

“I think my project fulfilled the necessary components of traditional initiation,” Blaine said. “I completely separated from my family and friends by doing the 10 mile hike alone; I overcame a purposeful challenge, because climbing the mountain was definitely difficult for me; and I was accepted back into the community by my friends and family, celebrated as an adult.”

Blaine planned out her final phase to be a celebration in order to recognize among her peers that this was in fact a significant event in her life. Without being treated differently afterwards, her project would have been to no avail.

“My friends planned a very symbolic celebration for me at the end of my hike, waiting with balloons and decorating me with face paint to acknowledge my new phase in life,” Blaine said. “I had also planned beforehand with my parents what new privileges and responsibilities I would bear after entering adulthood through this project.”

Blaine reached the summit of Black Mountain with a beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay. Symbolically, she had reached the peak of her childhood.
“The adjustment of ending senior year and heading off to college in a few months has definitely been emotional and overwhelming for me,” Blaine said. “So this project allowed me to mark this major transition into a new phase of my life, and to say goodbye to my childhood and California – all of which added closure in a way I hadn’t realized I was craving.”

Emily Cheng always had a passion for art. Since she couldn’t fit AP Art History in her schedule, the project allowed for her to explore the world of graphic design.

“When I found out that we could focus our senior project on any topic we wished, I instantly knew I wanted to do something related to graphic design so I could continue my passion for art,” Emily said.

For the research paper part of her project, Emily discovered how aspects of graphic design communicates specific messages and influences human behavior. Through her research, Emily found various studies on how visual senses impact thoughts and actions. Specifically, Emily focused on the effects of color and topography. She also studied how corporations create logos and advertisements. Focusing on these various parts of graphic design enabled her to devise a cohesive paper that covered her interests.

“I was very surprised to learn how much our visual senses impact how we learn and act,” Emily said. “I was able to use all of these elements in my paper and show how they are all connected.”

In addition to her research paper, Emily expanded her graphic design interests in her hands-on project. Emily worked on a series of infographics about the top 50 universities in the U.S. After her infographics were complete, she shared them with juniors and underclassmen. In doing so, she hopes to give them helpful information about colleges, and help them with their application process in the coming years.

“I am really excited to present the project to the class,” Emily said. “Hopefully my project will also be helpful for other students who are looking to gather information about colleges.”

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