Senior projects take on greater purpose

LAKE PLACID - An assigment given to seniors at Lake Placid Central School has motivated many students to put their interests and skills to work for people in need.

On May 30, teams made up of students and faculty from the school will participate in Volleyball for a Cure, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society organized by Lake Placid senior Mackenzie Puerner.

The event represents one of several responses to a senior class project designed to get students thinking about how they can take their interests to the next level.

"Each student picks a topic and does a hands-on project based on that topic," explained 12th grade English teacher Shelly Wood.

When the project was assigned early in the school year, Puerner knew what her approach was going to be.

"I know the American Cancer Society works really hard to help people," she said, noting that her mother and grandfather have both suffered from cancer. She has regularly volunteered at ACS's local Relay for Life in past summers.

Since seventh grade Puerner has played volleyball at Lake Placid, and is planning to play in college, so it was only natural to combine her passion for athletics with her concern for helping cancer-stricken people.

"She knew her love for volleyball and she wanted to leave her mark here at the school by making a difference," Wood said.

Because each student is asked to find a mentor to help with the project, Puerner sought the assistance of her volleyball coach, Donna Moody, to help organize the tournament.

"Her and I have a close relationship as player and coach," Puerner said. "She was just really willing to help with what I wanted to do."

Other seniors have also used their long-term projects as an opportunity to make a positive impact. One student has been working to raise money for donations to the cause of World Hunger, while another is looking to support educational facilities in the African nation of Liberia.

Wood said it was pleasantly surprising to see so many students choose to support a variety of worthy causes, despite the fact that community service is not a requirement for the assignment.

"I guess there's just a philanthropic nature to these projects," said Wood. "It's encouraging to see that young people can have this kind of vision before they even leave high school."

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