For the past several years, Rhode Island high school seniors have been required to complete a senior project in order to graduate.
This year James Berberick, one of the football players that I coached at Portsmouth High School, asked me if I would be willing to mentor him while he worked to complete his senior project.
I agreed, with one condition.
James would not take the easy way out. He had to promise to do meaningful work that would not only benefit himself, but the community as well.
Every year I hear about some of the absolute waste of time efforts that some students pass off as senior projects. James made the decision to make his count. I am very proud of him for the work that he did throughout this process and the final product that came of it.
James had a very simple yet noble goal from the beginning of this project: he wanted to do something that would benefit children. The initial idea was to develop an instructional program that would teach special needs students basic football skills.
Good in theory, but not exactly thinking outside of the box considering that James is a varsity football player. I instructed James to be more creative and come up with a project that would not only satisfy his desire to benefit children, but also take him away from his areas of expertise.
A couple of days later, James caught up with me after practice and excitedly proclaimed that he was going to write a nutrition booklet for children. Yes!!!! Now we could get to work. James was going to actually learn something! (This would actually turn out to be a “lot of somethings” as he continued to develop his idea.)
Not only would children get something out of this effort, but so would he. His book could have been compiled of a bunch of on-line research, stock pictures, and very little sweat.
However, James took a more involved, hands-on approach by spending hours in the Brick Alley Pub kitchen. He learned food and knife safety, how to cook safely and simply, how to create and compose recipes, and how to conduct himself in a busy business environment.
He extended his “classroom” to outside of the kitchen, visiting other local businesses, such as the local grocer, where he introduced himself and asked if they would be so kind as to allow him to photograph some of their items.
To bring his project full circle, James even took the time to assist in the planting of an urban garden in Newport – an experience that gave him a deeper understanding of where food comes from (no, it doesn’t just magically grow in the cupboards) along with the personal know-how of what and how to plant herbs and vegetables for healthy use at home.
This is what a Senior Project should be all about. James sincerely dedicated himself to learning something new, putting forth the time and effort necessary for exploring the uncharted territory that lay outside of his comfort zone. Your
health can benefit greatly by making simple healthy choices like the ones
outlined for you in his booklet. Remember, nutrition is nothing but a lifelong series of simple choices.
*We will provide a link to The book after he submits his project.