Senior Seminar January Projects

Senior Seminar is a yearlong elective course in which 12th graders study a variety of texts touching on theology, philosophy, economics, the arts and history, and participate in seminar-format conversation and exploration of ideas. Throughout January, Senior Seminar students work on a project that enables them to go deeper into a chosen topic, and in early February these are presented to their peers and the school at large. Here, a group of students share their experience with Instructor of English Lucie Duffort:

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Please tell us a little bit about your project:

Scarlett Goh (Systemic Housing Inequity: Redlining and Restrictive Covenants ) - My project was an investigation of the different forms of housing inequity through history in the Bay Area. I looked at redlining maps of San Francisco, and restrictive covenants on housing deeds in Marin County, to learn about segregation and its generational health effects. I started a podcast called "This Still Matters," where I interviewed an environmental lawyer and high school interns aiming to change racist language on housing deeds.

Gianni Valentine (Painting Detroit’s History) - My project showcases the rise and fall of Detroit through a collection of two paintings. Both paintings are of the William Livingston home in Detroit, the first shows it in 1890, the second in 2004.

Alexander Wong (Storybookland) - Storybookland focused on the psychological and scientific aspects of theme park design and eventual application of these ideas to my own theme park design, called Storybookland. In this project, I explored the history behind theme parks and what makes them a spectacle for people to experience. Using these design concepts from studying existing theme parks and attractions, I designed Storybookland to be an optimal representation of the theme park layout in order to attract as many visitors as possible.

Katherine Baldwin (Hidden in the Limelight) - An exploration of how theater has represented how society functions throughout history.

William Holland (Frieden Noel) - A study of the Christmas Truce of 1914 and its implications about the agency of soldiers to force leaders to find a nonviolent resolution.

Ella Hartogensis Lloyd (Write What YOU Know) - For my January project, I started writing a novel, while also diving into research surrounding what makes a 'good' story and how we see humanity in the elements of storytelling. Then I questioned the value of AI creativity, given the rise of ChatGPT in recent months. Through analyzing the hero's journey, the psychology of one's subjective conscious experience, and the importance of embodiment in cognition, I concluded that human creativity will always be superior to AI.

What was your favorite part about preparation for and participation in this event?

Scarlett Goh - My trip to the history room in the Mill Valley Public Library was memorable. Here I looked through old housing deeds and photos of property, and listened to interviews of people of color trying to navigate the housing market. Overall, I was excited to take a deep dive into a frustrating part of our local history, which was just a portion of a national issue during the 1900's.

Gianni Valentine - I got to finally learn a new skill I have been wanting to explore for a while now: painting. I also learned a lot about discipline and long term gratification.

Alexander Wong - My favorite part of preparing for these presentations was the freedom to discover a whole new topic that was compelling to me. I chose a topic that I absolutely enjoyed researching and found fascinating. In addition, I enjoyed being able to apply the topics that I learned to create my own visual theme park design which let me express imagination and creativity. During the event, it was interesting to learn about the passions that students explored in their presentations. This event allowed me to understand a multitude of topics ranging from food to science to culture.

Katherine Baldwin - I loved being able to learn on my own terms and research something I was actually very interested in! Because it was something meaningful to me, learning became a lot more enjoyable than it is in some classes I've taken in the past. I also had a lot of fun sharing with people and I felt proud of my work. Plus, my presentation involved Kahoot and chocolate, and that is always super fun.

William Holland - Writing my own short film script based on the Christmas Truce and learning screenwriting practices to construct believable, human characters.

Ella Hartogensis Lloyd -I really enjoyed the interdisciplinary nature of this project, especially how I was able to synthesize several of my academic interests including English, psychology, and philosophy. I also loved hearing my classmates' present their projects and see their passion for their chosen subjects.

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