COVID-19 Quarantine Spurs Creative PDS Senior Projects

Princeton Day School seniors pivoted and innovated this spring to create, develop and execute their Senior Projects, the culmination of their PDS academic experience. In light of online schooling and the state's COVID quarantine, faculty Senior Project Program coordinators Brian Mayer, Mia Manzulli, Michelle Simonds and Corinne Bilodeau were tasked with helping to reinvent the process this spring. Restrictions imposed by the pandemic forced students to cancel all planned external activities, such as internships or travel-related experiences, and made interaction within the process a challenge. The Senior Project coordinators more than rose to the challenge in a creative and thoughtful manner by creating a program that allowed students to adapt their projects to their interests and needs while in quarantine, maintained elements of structure for students, and preserved the guiding principles of the program: self-directed inquiry, independent research and learning, and self-initiative.

The seniors also answered the call, producing results that reflected their individuality, curiosity and determination while covering a huge spectrum of interests. During the final full week of School, Senior Projects were highlighted this week during various online sessions. Several seniors presented their work to their peers at a well attended virtual Upper School gathering.

Here is a small sample of 2020 Senior Project highlights:

Photos provided by Ellie Schofield

Ellie Schofield '20

Ellie set out to create a piece of clothing that delivered a political message when she began her Senior Project. Her vision was to create visually appealing clothing that presented assertive, meaningful content.

Ellie focused her project on those two causes after reading two books on the global refugee crisis and the environmental crisis.

She embroidered thirteen quotes from both books onto the skirt that she made while also stitching a number of eyes into the pattern to represent people discovering the weight of these issues for the first time. On the shirt, she embroidered "Sapere Aude," which is Latin for "Dare to Know."

Screenshot of Kyra Douglass' Senior Project from US Gathering livestream (left) and a photo provided by Kyra (right)

Kyra Douglass '20

Kyra  combined her love for coding and her interest in virtual reality to create "Panthervision", a 360-degree virtual tour of PDS. Kyra used photos of campus from students and the School’s website in order to construct twenty 'rooms' throughout the PDS campus that you can experience in this virtual tour.

She also incorporated quotes from seniors into different areas of campus that a user would see when they enter each room and look around. Kyra explains, "The quotes also serve as a sort of time capsule that I can return to later to remember how things were."

Luigi Soriano '20

Luigi wrote a play centered around DNA databasing and its use in forensics. Luigi's play tracks a central character, a college student, who discovers and unravels the dangers of DNA databasing first-hand. Luigi explains, "this play is also partially a 'living newspaper' that presents factual current events and seeks to convey a message that leads the audience to start asking questions they may not have thought of before."

Screenshot of Joe Hudicka's Senior Project taken during US Gathering livestream

Joe Hudicka '20

Joe Hudicka created a series of photobooks titled Transcendence. Joe sought to visually explore the dualism of life from the creation of the universe to the growth of mankind. Joe culled more than 2,500 photographs for the three photobooks in this series, Creation of the Universe; Fluorescence of Nature; and Growth of a Higher Being.

Screenshot of Audrey and Krithika's Senior Project taken during US Gathering livestream (left), a photo provided by Audrey Liang (bottom right) and Krithika Vasireddy (upper right)

Audrey Liang '20 and Krithika Vasireddy '20

Audrey Liang and Krithika Vasireddy wrote and illustrated a children’s book born from Ovid's Metamorphoses. The pair adapted Latin translations and paired them with simple illustrations with a middle-school-aged audience in mind. 

Audrey and Krithika had to shift gears after the emergence of COVID-19 and ultimately hand-sketched all of the illustrations before tracing them with sharpies for the final product. They created nine stories out of eight of Ovid's poems.

Screenshot of Krista Caasi performing one of her songs from her Senior Project during US Gathering livestream

Krista Caasi '20

Krista Caasi capped off her illustrious PDS theater and musical performance career by composing and producing a mini-album of three original songs for her Senior Project. She used GarageBand to produce the songs. Throughout the project, Krista focused on the creative process of transforming her ideas into lyrics and combining them with musical compositions that brought added dimension to her topics. 

Adayliah Ley '20

Adayliah Ley researched how the fashion industry, fueling consumerism, has been harmful to the environment. She also studied ways that many companies in the clothing industry are endangering workers who make the products due to using cheaper, potentially harmful products. 

To break the cycle of consumerism, Adayliah produced her own clothing from second-hand materials that she found at Goodwill, received from friends and family or found in her own closet. The results were well stitched, stylish pieces of clothing that recycled materials rather than sending more to the world's landfills.

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