Projects that took New Albany students to hospitals, classrooms and the ocean took over the Jefferson Room last week.

Projects that took New Albany students to hospitals, classrooms and the ocean took over the Jefferson Room last week.

In order to graduate, New Albany High School students must complete a senior seminar project, and this year's top seven projects were presented last Thursday.

Top projects were "Reading Beyond the Limits," by Corey Bray; "Musical Composition for Big Band," by Ethan Cullinan; "Natural Ohio," by Miranda Doran-Myers; "Nautical Archeology: A Dive Through History," by Sam Erdman; "Building a Hovercraft," by Alex Huff; "Internship -- Orthopedic Spinal Surgeon," by Zackary Martin; and "Through Edith's Eyes," by Jordan Romanoff.

Bray helped the school district and tested a new reading program for her senior seminar project.

In "Reading Beyond the Limits," Bray made online books for a first-grade class. "Originally, I just wanted to volunteer and read with students," she said.

An adviser, however, steered her toward the project. Bray created three books, and two were coordinated with the K-1 school's monthlong Partners in Conservation program. Bray said the most challenging aspect of her project was in writing at a first-grade level.

"I didn't realize how complex my sentences were," she said.

Cullinan used a lifelong passion for his project and composed a piece of music for big band.

The senior plays the saxophone and piano, which helped him pen 17 parts for the musical piece.

"I composed for a professional big band. There are 17 parts," he said. "The drums were difficult. I'd never seen drum parts before."

The drum part had to be rewritten, but a band recorded Cullinan's music.

Despite the experience from composing and musical background, Cullinan said he doesn't plan to go into music next year in college.

"I'm going into biology," he said. "I'm really science-oriented. This is a big departure for me."

Doran-Myers' "Natural Ohio" project took her all over that state. Inspired by an idea from her father and a book, Doran-Myers travels included hiking, taking pictures and cataloging her visits.

While traveling miles for the project, Doran-Myers saw firsthand the mark the glaciers left on the state -- with flat lands in the north and hilly lands in the south.

"I had no idea how much glaciers shaped our state," she said.

Great Seal State Park near Chillicothe was Doran-Meyers' favorite destination.

"It was so peaceful and beautiful, and the mountains looked just like our state seal," she said.

Erdman's project took him more than 1,000 miles south to a diving site in Key Largo. Erdman obtained a spot on a field school run by PAST, a nonprofit organization that combines anthropology and education.

Erdman has been certified in scuba diving for a few years and put the skill to use during the two-week field school.

"We created a sitemap for Civil War ship wreckage," he said. "It was a ship called Tonawanda."

Erdman said while in the Keys he also helped create a database of artifacts from a Spanish galleon trail, dating back to the 1700s.

"It wasn't necessarily challenging, but it was an eye-opening experience," he said. "I had no idea how much time went into a database."

Erdman was the only high school student at the field school, which is aimed at college students, but he said it was a great experience.

Huff's hovercraft project has become quite popular. The senior constructed it from scratch for his project and it's drawn a lot of notice.

"It's pretty unusual," he said. "It's not something a lot of people know about so I think it's intriguing to them. It's something big and loud."

Huff was inspired by the Discovery Channel's "Myth Busters" and spent about 160 hours on the vehicle. The hovercraft was built from plywood, fiberglass, a gas motor and other items. When he took it to the high school for a demonstration, he drew a crowd.

"They're pretty impressed," he said. "They're pretty proud a project could turn out like this."

Martin's project was gory, but it didn't bother him. Martin interned for Daryl Sybert at the New Albany Surgical Hospital for his project.

"I've always been interested in medicine in general before the project. I was interested in doing something in the medical field," he said.

During his internship, he saw 20 different surgeries, but he didn't get queasy.

"I never got squeamish," he said. "It was very surreal when I went into the first surgery, but I got used to it."

The internship wasn't all observing surgeries, though. Sybert asked Martin to do extensive research on the surgeries.

"I spent 100 hours at the hospital, and I didn't keep tabs on how much time the research took. There was probably 50 hours of personal research," he said.

For his senior project, Romanoff wrote a historical-fiction book based on his grandmother's trip from Hungary to America in 1938.

"Through Edith's Eyes" was written for young adults. In the book, Romanoff relays the struggle of a Jewish family in World War II.

After the 160-page book was written, Romanoff self-published it and said the book has gained a lot of attention.

"I was on 'Good Morning Columbus' a few months ago," he said. "I've spoken at a few things. I spoke at Dublin Davis Middle School, and it was the best."

Romanoff also created a Web site for his book, with an opportunity to purchase the book for $9.95. Proceeds will go to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

"It's been good. I've donated a lot of books to temples in the area," he said.

Jordan Romanoff won the top prize last week for senior seminar projects, but the others did not go without recognition.

The top seven senior-seminar projects were judged and awards were presented by educational, community and business leaders May 22.

In order to graduate from New Albany High School, seniors are required to complete a senior-seminar project, which includes 100 hours of work, research and a report.

Project coordinator Jeff Stuart called the project "a capstone class" for seniors.

Thirty-two senior-seminar projects were chosen for the Distinguished Honor Award, and the top 15 were given a $100 cash award from the New Albany Chamber of Commerce.

"The other 17 received recognition," Stuart said.

Stuart said 39 students applied for the Distinguished Honor Award.

"The (top seven) finalists are chosen from that," he said.

The top seven projects were chosen by a panel of judges, including school board president Diane Goedeking, OSU admissions counselor Bill Stemen and arts center executive director Ted DeDee.

"We chose the top seven on presentation and the actual project concept -- the way they presented it, the way they conducted the entire project and also grades," Stuart said.

The top seven prizes are sponsored by the New Albany Co., and Romanoff won top honors with his historical fiction book, "Through Edith's Eyes."

Corey Bray won second place with her creation of books for classes at the K-1 school in "Reading Between the Lines."

Romanoff received $400, and Bray won $300. The other five finalists were awarded $150.

Two other awards also were given for senior projects. Stuart said the Paul Hatfield award and $75 were given to Ryan Roads and Yuri Masser.

"Paul Hatfield was a student that one of the (senior project) team members had several years ago," Stuart said. "He put forth every ounce of energy into his project. He didn't necessarily have the best presentation, but he put everything into it he had."

-- Jennifer Noblit