Parents and friends visited the Ross School in East Hampton to check out the students’ senior projects last week—and found everything from tiny models of solar carports to an audio history of hip-hop to a live guide dog and a live game of dominoes and much more.
According to Dale Scott, the Ross School’s coordinator of senior projects, the students begin their projects at the end of their junior year by presenting a proposal, and then refine it in the fall of their senior year. Ms. Scott said that the students dedicate three periods each day to working on their projects, with individual faculty members acting as mentors.
“This night has a lot of stress with it, but it’s certainly the biggest celebration,” Ms. Scott said at the exhibit.
Jonas Linnman-Feuerring showcased his hopes for a cleaner community in his hometown of Sag Harbor with a 3D model of the village run entirely with self-sustaining energy sources. In his project are tiny models of carports that provide shade for parked cars while collecting solar energy, miniature houses with geothermal heating and cooling, and tiny wind turbines.
“Wind turbines are expensive, but they provide large quantities of energy,” the senior told the visitors taking a look at his project.
Other projects focused on the evolution of culture, like one by Jordyn Moncur, who used a small hallway to present “Hip-Hop: A Social Gift and Burden.” Each wall covered a portion of the evolution of hip-hop through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s from a local movement in the Bronx to a billion-dollar cultural enterprise. Hip-hop from a specific era blared from each bathroom lining the hallway.
“I researched it as I wrote it, it came very fluidly to me,” Jordyn said.
Isabelle Rowe made history at the school with her project by being the first student to train a guide dog. In collaboration with the Guide Dog Foundation, her project involved taking in a 2-month-old puppy named Tucci and not only teaching it the basics, but also training it to behave in social environments like beaches, restaurants, pools, movie theaters and even her own classes at Ross. Isabelle will continue to train Tucci even though her project was completed.
Some projects came from a personal experience—like that of Michael Vanegas, which was inspired by his family’s immigration to the United States from Ecuador. Michael took photos of immigrant life, painted pictures representing the melting pot of American culture, and had his family help paint a picture of daily life.
“I went to my family and just asked them to speak to me about their life, even if it was just for five minutes,” Michael said. “I hoped to talk to them so that I could envision what happened to them.”
He even had people play dominoes—a popular game in Ecuador—right next to his display, one of the few exhibits to have a live element.
“I wanted to show that bad things that happened, but also the good things and this is a really good pastime. I wanted my exhibit to be original and unique,” Michael said.
Amanda Mintz’s project highlighted a nonprofit organization called “In My Shoes” that raises money for advocacy and educational programs on the prevention of sexual violence. Amanda, who said she was a victim herself, sold personalized shoelaces, designed a website with more information, created a film called “Stronger Than Words” that details the journey of four survivors of sexual violence, and wrote essays on the issue in order to spread awareness and prevent future violence. Her main goal is to send out a program called the “event-in-a-box,” a self-educational tool featuring an informational guide, a copy of her film, and other tools to local schools.
“This was very therapeutic and the hardest thing to do, especially in a culture that stigmatizes rape victims,” the senior said. “This was designed to be an educational tool counteracting sexual violence.”
Among the other projects—all showcased over a three-day period last week—were an environmentally friendly mobile food business selling Brazilian açai bowls; an observational beehive to help advocate for bee conservation of bees; a charcoal forge used it to create hand tools for blacksmithing; and a multimedia installation about Long Island’s immigrant community.
“I like it when the students build something,” said Novelette Brown, the Ross director of public relations, at the exhibit last Thursday. “They know going in that this is something significant to them.”