Several New Albany High School seniors have one of their graduation requirements out of the way after presenting their senior seminar projects to teachers last week.
"Every year, they come up with something new," said senior seminar adviser Lori Cheney. "After 21 years of senior seminar, they're still getting new projects."
Cheney said all 320 seniors will have to complete New Albany High School's senior seminar course in order to graduate in 2014.
This summer, Cheney taught 38 seniors in two blended-learning courses, which combined online tools with traditional classroom teaching, a concept known as blended learning.
Thirty-four more were enrolled in two other senior seminar classes, taught in 10 classroom sessions.
The rest of the 2014 seniors are split into two groups: one which started the course this summer and will finish in January and another which will start this fall and end by April.
The senior seminar requires students to research an idea, create a product or complete a project and document 80 hours of work.
Seniors Taylor Wigglesworth and Eliza Matt said it wasn't hard to meet the time requirement.
Both took one of Cheney's two blended-learning senior seminar courses, much of which was taught online.
Wigglesworth said she worked with the activities director of Columbus Colony Housing, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center in Westerville, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week for six weeks.
She said she had volunteered at the center with her youth group from the Central College Presbyterian Church in Westerville and decided to expand her work.
While working there, Wigglesworth said, she decided to host a donation drive to collect more puzzles and games for the residents.
Wigglesworth said she accepted donations that filled her car.
"For senior seminar, I think you should do something you love and something that makes an impact on others and benefits more people in the process," she said.
Matt said she took a different approach by working with engineers at the Ohio State University to study how cancer cells migrate to other parts of the body and eventually cause death.
She said she worked at Ohio State for nine weeks, logging 150 hours.
"My goal was to do something I was interested in," Matt said. "If you choose something (for senior seminar) that you don't like and you don't like where you're going to be, it will be awful."
Matt said she plans to study math or science at college next year.
Wigglesworth said she hopes to go into medicine, possibly for geriatric patients.
Cheney said students in the two blended-learning courses received weekly assignments online and were required to post comments in an online discussion group every week.
"I was very concerned that I would lose that personal relationship with the kids," Cheney said. "But I don't think that happened."
She said, however, that their personalities showed, and students were able to keep participating, even when they were traveling.
Cheney said she also experimented with mass texts, reminding students about assignments twice a week. The experiment helped her meet them on their level, she said, in a way they are used to receiving information.
Students still had to meet twice with the full class and twice with her, she said.
Cheney said she wants to offer the blended-learning course again next year but said it takes more time and requires smaller classes.
"A well-done blended class takes a lot of time," she said.
Cheney said senior seminar benefits students by helping them identify what they like and don't like.
They also learn more about themselves.
"They're so proud of the work they've done," Cheney said. "It's amazing to me what they can do."