Sword & Shield

New senior magnet requirements spark creativity

Anna Winslow, Editor-in-Chief

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Every Sunday, senior Jacob Ewert spends his day studying and exploring sand dunes along Florida’s east coast. Recording data, taking pictures, and observing natural flora and fauna, Ewert takes every measure to ensure the accuracy of his research.
“I wanted to research sand dunes because we don’t learn too much about them in school,” Ewert said. “They serve an important role in our environment, yet that importance is rarely addressed in our society.”
Ewert, a dedicated member of South’s Environmental Science and Everglades Restoration magnet program, is one of many magnet seniors completing research projects this year. Although in-depth senior projects are a signature feature of the magnet program, updated graduation requirements for magnet have changed the way many students have chosen to complete their magnet journey.
For the past 16 years, every magnet senior was required to complete a research project to be presented at the end of the year at Senior Symposium. Each senior took a specific research class like Humanities, Limnology, or Zoology and completed a project within that realm of study. This year, the magnet board elected to do away with these classes, instead introducing separate paths to graduation.
“We wanted to change it up this year to give seniors more choices to pursue their specific interests,” said Matt Zealy, Experimental Science and senior research teacher.
Seniors now have the choice to take Experimental Science 4 with or without a project, a fifth science class, or AP Capstone Research. Each class has a different focus varying from community service and school beautification to project based learning. Regardless of the class’s focus, the common theme of the magnet program resonates throughout each one.
Students in Experimental Science 4 have the option to complete an independent senior project to be showcased at symposium. If they are not completing a senior research project, they spend class time working in smaller groups to complete class projects based on service learning while continuing to learn about the Everglades. Seniors who would rather explore a specific topic in science also have the option to take a fifth science class instead of a research class.
“For me personally, taking a fifth science class rather than a research class was the better choice,” said Mia Williams, magnet senior. “I really wanted to take anatomy and felt that a senior project would be too stressful.”
Students involved in AP capstone may also use that class to complete their magnet project, as long as the project is environmentally based.
“I was glad that I could complete my project in AP capstone,” said Ashleigh Placensia, senior magnet student. “My project is on water conservation in South Florida’s hotel industry, so it fits the requirements for both magnet and Capstone.”
There are plans in place to showcase other senior projects at symposium, even if they were not completed during magnet classes. Those projects may include DECA projects, environmental artwork, and science projects. Showcasing such projects will emphasize the diversity of student interests in the magnet program. However, the plans are still tentative, and have yet to be confirmed.

Students who complete a senior project will receive a medallion to be worn at graduation in addition to a cord which will be rewarded to all magnet seniors who graduate from the magnet program.

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New senior magnet requirements spark creativity