Twenty-three seniors' 18 weeks of work came to fruition at Gahanna Lincoln High School last week.

Twenty-three seniors' 18 weeks of work came to fruition at Gahanna Lincoln High School last week.

The group of high-schoolers, led by two English teachers, Page Alexander and Mary Lou Purdy, voluntarily participated in the school's senior-projects program, focusing on such topics as alcoholism, industrial design, personal shopping, and autism and education.

The program is in its fifth year.

"I see us more as facilitators," Purdy said, saying that when a student needed direction or advice, they were there.

"We might be their sounding board," Alexander said.

Although they are individual projects, they weren't without collaboration. Many times, the students provided peer review and helped one another, Alexander said.

"They rely on each other," she said.

For example, one student might see an article or item that would apply to another student's project. Because each knows what the others are doing, one might bring it in and provide it to his or peer.

In the end, the student stands alone before four or five judges.

"It doesn't work unless they have a passion," Alexander said.

For example, a helicopter project involved a kit with 71,000 pieces required to make the model. The research paper compared and contrasted how model and real helicopters work.

For example, model helicopters are capable of maintaining an inverted hover, unlike a real helicopter.

Occasionally, Purdy and Alexander lose a student or two in the process of the research, but usually, the student is the one who makes the choice.

"They weed themselves out," Purdy said.

The special course is one of the programs that might be housed at the new High School Learning Center, 93 N. Hamilton Road, Superintendent Gregg Morris said.

The project starts with research and includes a research paper, a product and a presentation to a team of judges from the community. In the process, the student develops a portfolio of relevant documents to support the project, the required documents in an organized fashion and the student's own reflections on what he or she learned.

The first six weeks are spent on researching and writing the research paper.

For some, this senior project might develop into doctorate dissertations. The research they've started now could be updated for senior college projects, a master's thesis or a dissertation, Purdy and Alexander said.

The senior project began five years ago as a pilot program. Now the program takes 25 to 28 students annually.

This year the topics were personal shopping, presented by Samantha Autry; congenital heart disease, by Brooke Miller; marine mammals, by Alexis Ayers; eco-friendly and budget-wise design, by Lauren Gardner; cancer treatments, by Mary Kate Garvey; Catholicism, by Katie Falter; screenwriting and movie making, by Mike Page; left-handed syndrome, by Jasmine Manigoe; opera, by Kyle Strait; African-American poetry, by Starr Davis; musical theater, by Amber Bryant; cultural influences on regional design, by Lindsay Dale; remote-control helicopters, by Erik Birkinbine; high-ropes course, by Michelle Cohen; differently able students, by Jessica Littrell; illustration, by Mike Caputo; industrial design manufacturing, by Branden Francis; spirituality, by Andrew Offord; autism and education, by Dylan Bias; decorating dorms, by Kati Gonzalez; event planning, by Katie Chokreff; alcoholism, by Jill Allen; and fashion design, by Brayana Whatley.

gvickers@thisweeknews.com