Community service highlights YHS Senior Project Fair

The hard work of 146 Yosemite High School seniors was on display last week, as they showed off their efforts to better the community to judges and the public during the 4th Annual Senior Project Fair.

Anywhere one of the 75 judges looked, they saw visual boards demonstrating projects ranging from fundraisers for area charities or organizations to sporting or dinner events that raised money for the school, with a proud student at the ready to explain their work.

For many in the 2016 class, all forever remembered as Badger strong, their project was about more than meeting a mandated minimum of 20 hours of work.

Most students said they wanted to go further, and give back as much as they could to the community that has done so much for them.

“I think it’s good to have kids actually get out instead of sitting at home playing videogames all the time,” said Ashlee Harrell, a Badger girls basketball player who ran a three-month youth clinic that raised $1,500 for the team. “Coming out to play basketball and have fun outside rather than just staring at a screen all day was important to me, because kids should be active. Getting out to play with them and bond with them was just great.”

Calissa Crumpton, a YHS swim and band member, raised $5,944 for a new timing system at the school’s swim complex dubbed the “Colorado 6,” which she purchased and handed over May 14.

Though she spent 134 hours with the project - organizing a two-evening historical dinner show at the Yosemite Lakes Park Clubhouse - Crumpton said her goal wasn’t to take advantage of the new system.

“The point isn’t so I could benefit from it,” said Crumpton, who noted the school’s previous timer failed before her final swim season, which led to a reliance on stopwatches. “The point is so everyone else can be able to use it and enjoy it. I’m happy that they can, because that’s what I benefit from, being able to help out.”

That mentality is one of the main goals behind the required Senior Projects, Rebecca Hardison said.

“It’s such a positive event,” said Hardison, who has organized the fair the last four years. “It’s very exciting, and great to see all that these kids have done for our area. Some of them have never done community service at all, so it kind of pushes them to step outside of their comfort zone and try something new. A lot of these projects are based on acts of kindness towards other people, towards animals, or towards the community in general, and that’s what’s really important.”

Everything from cleaning up wildlife areas, working in senior kitchens, holding volleyball games to raise money for breast cancer research, becoming a Madera County Search & Rescue member, tie-dying shirts to sell for donations to The Talking Bear Foundation, or even cleaning the headstones of former, now-deceased YHS students were part of senior projects, which led to some very impressed judges.

“I think this is wonderful, because it gives them a hint towards the rigors of being in the real world, by putting together a project then following through,” said Monica McClanahan, a first-year judge. “The community benefits from having a lot of work done by the students, and we all get to take pride in everything they’re doing.”

Beyond local projects, many students also took part in international organizations, such as mission trips to other countries.

Everyone who attended the May 24 event had the opportunity to vote for their favorites in three categories: best project, best visual board, and best interview. Winners will be announced June 3 at the school’s end of the year assembly.

Altogether, the students logged more than 3,000 collective hours verified by mentors on their projects, wrote a reflection paper, and created a visual board to represent their work. All students said they loved being able to contribute to the Mountain Area, and hoped their projects would help inspire their fellow Badgers in the future.

“The whole Senior Project was super fun,” said Brook Lynn Bragdon, who along with partner Naryan Black organized a science booth at the Coarsegold Elementary School Country Fair. “It was really awesome to be able to give back to the school. I went there when I was younger, so it felt really awesome to give back to the teachers who did so much for me. I had the best time.”

Those willing to help with a future senior project, or who have a project idea can call Rebecca Hardison at (559) 683-4667, ext. 418.