Senior Project 2.0 (Pt. 2)

School News
April 1, 2019- Since the start of the second semester, 12th graders have been hard at work on Senior Projects, which are now a graduation requirement. Senior Project presentations will take place at the 2019 VMS Academic Symposium on Wednesday, May 15 and Friday, May 17 and will include the incredibly diverse set of subjects spotlighted below in addition to those included in the Senior Project preview published in February. 
 

Cameron Bill

Building a Guitar
I intend to explore the world of guitar making, and how to create a high-quality electric guitar, which will be my final product. One of the most important parts of being a musician is knowing your instrument and being able to understand what makes it special and unique. As Jimmy Page said when speaking about his custom made Fender Telecaster, “The story of the instrument is the whole journey of it.” I intend to learn how to build a guitar and write a paper about the process including how I overcome problems and challenges I encounter along the way. My final presentation will include a musical performance using the guitar that I will create and a presentation about the process of building it. This guitar project will help me to become a better musician by providing an opportunity to understand my instrument better and creating one specifically designed to fit my preferences as a musician.
 

Ian Hardenbergh

Public Art
Public art in urban and suburban towns like Vail is becoming recognized as one of the most modern forms of art. Through this project, I hope to use my creativity to do something for my local community. This matters to the outside world because public art inspires others who don’t have a chance to see art on a daily basis. My paper will focus on public art with research about the relationship between the modern generation and public art, as well as the different styles of street art used in an urban setting. This paper will show the significance of public art and how it is the most modern form of art.
 

Sarah Evans

Glassblowing
People rarely find the time to learn a new skill, a new craft, or a new hobby. I believe that this is critical to seeing the world in new ways, to exercising one’s own creativity and imagination, and building empathy for others. For this purpose, I am exploring the ancient art of glassworking, the different forms of glass that appear in our world today, and how they are created. I will be working with Gatherhouse, a glass studio in Frisco where I will learn how to create Venetian style glass and eventually create my own pieces that I hope to display in an art gallery or at VMS. The written component of my project will include a series of journal entries that reflect my progression through glassblowing, as well as the vulnerability experienced while learning something new. Additionally, it will include a research paper about the history of glass, the science and techniques used to manipulate it, and the modern masters of glass. Through this project, I hope to introduce people to the world of glassworking and to inspire them to explore something new for the sake of gaining a new perspective on previously unnoticed parts of the world.
 

Robert Harnick

Maps as a Means to Expand Our Horizons
Maps are a significant part of our lives that help further our understanding of our environment, but also of ourselves. Maps are also a representation of a culture’s interests and provide a snapshot of where they are at a point in history. At VMS, and all around the Vail Valley, we are in the mountains every day, whether to ski, snowboard, bike, hike, or pursue other outdoor activities. Each of these involves the mountains, and most often, Vail Mountain. Access is facilitated by the map of Vail Mountain that appears everywhere, and that has been at the heart of our community since the founding of the ski resort. However, this map is very limited in scope, and more and more, there is interest in going beyond the bounds of the mountain. This is why I have decided to create a ski map for the backcountry terrain around the Vail Valley. This will show the parts of the mountain terrain that we don’t see ordinarily except from below while driving past, or sometimes hiking. I want to make the backcountry more appealing to the everyday person, while also showing the dangers of the backcountry and making its use safer.
 

Hannah Lautenberg

Allergy Friendly & Tasty 
I plan to create and test food recipes that are both allergy friendly and tasty. I will be using alternative ingredients as substitutes for the most common food allergens: gluten, dairy, nuts, etc. I plan on creating a handful of different food options for all meals throughout the day. This project means a lot to me because I eat a diet free from gluten, dairy, and tapioca, as does my mother. It is very difficult to find good food that is an adequate and appealing substitute for what we cannot eat, so I hope that this project will be a means to broaden my options and other’s as well. Food allergies are becoming increasingly common, so creating a menu of delicious alternatives will benefit those who share this struggle. I also will be studying how the most common allergies affect people in different ways and how beneficial it is to cut them out of your diet.
 

Theo Marston

Designing a Sustainable Home
My project is learning how to design and create a sustainable home. The project includes real-world connections with architecture companies and architects. I will work with Rick Dominick from Dominick Architects to help me design a sustainable and functional plan for a house. The product consists of blueprints for the house and landscape, as well as multiple miniature models of the walls, the interior, and the exterior with a designed landscape. The written part will be a research paper on the basics of architecture with a focus on sustainability. This project will help me gain a better understanding of architecture as I aim to pursue this in the future.
 

Mel McCalley

LGBTQ+ Awareness
My senior project is focused on education around gender, sexuality, and LGBTQ+ issues. I will be planning and participating in a panel discussion where people can ask LGBTQ+ people questions without worrying about being offensive or saying the wrong thing. My research paper will center around how the LGBTQ+ community has gained acceptance over time. I hope to start conversations around the important topics of gender and sexuality because it seems as though there is a lack of those discussions in our small town. I believe that if the LGBTQ+ community is better understood, progress can be made toward acceptance and equality.
 

Maru Payen

Fashion
I plan to study fashion design with a focus on discovering what generates success in the fashion world. My research will be mainly focused on the lives of my two major inspirations: Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld,  as well as the process to create a successful clothing line and fashion show. I have aspired to be a fashion designer since a young age when I would accompany my mother to her favorite stores. I remember standing on the furniture so that I could touch and look at the beautiful clothing and these experiences have inspired me to study fashion as my senior project. My goal is to redesign a men's and women's clothing line using my painting abilities and present them in a fashion show at Vail Mountain School.
 

Chloe Pesso

Portraying the True High School Experience in Film
Film has been used around the world for decades as a platform for those who want to share their stories with a broad audience. For my project, I am planning to study different film techniques used throughout the industry as well as investigating how to portray different emotions using film. I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the industry by creating a mini-series that sparks discussion about taboo topics in teenage life. This will include the hookup culture, social media, self-confidence, and gender relationships. This series will be set in a high school environment to appeal to a teenage audience. I want to create a product that portrays the true high school experience without the jocks in the letterman jackets, the pushing kids into lockers, or the massive headgear that we all see in the typical high school films. I intend to use my research to write two papers. The first will be about different forms of technology that are used to produce a film and how I might be able to use these in my product. In the second paper, I will delve deeper into the portrayal of certain emotions, themes, and symbols using film. I will conduct my research through online academic sources and my internship at TV8. I hope that my project will redirect the portrayal of high school life and open discussion to topics that are often left unspoken.
 

Will Richey

Online Deception
My project will examine online deception. My research paper will focus on how accounts, reputations, companies, reviews, and identities can be fabricated, as well as how and why people use these to deceive others. My project will also include a seminar that will show how false information can be made to appear real and how to avoid these kinds of deception. Together, the research paper and seminar will provide an in-depth look at the risks that internet users face every time they go online.
 

Nathan Rouad

The Night Sky & Light Pollution
My senior project will dive into the wonders of our night sky and how darkness has deteriorated due to human light pollution. Ever since I was a little boy, I have gone out at night to stargaze for hours and hours. I want to be able to shed light on this issue so that young children can experience and love the stars the same way that I did when I was their age. I will explore the world of photography and videography to create a brief documentary about my journey learning about light pollution. I will also write two papers. One will be the basis of my documentary and will examine work from experts on the night sky and solutions to slow the growth of light pollution. I will also research and write a paper on creating a succinct documentary and how to make my film appealing to a public audience. I plan on sharing my research and documentary with the Eagle Town Council to build awareness of the importance of keeping our skies as dark and as healthy as they can be.
 

Garrett Sampson

Investing
The subject of my senior project will be financial investment in the stock market. In order to gain real-world experience, I will be working with Adam Savin at Booth Creek Capital Management where I will learn about the stock market and how to invest. I will create my own personal investment strategy, and I will share my thoughts about what I have learned in doing so. My written component will be a portfolio of researched investment strategies. I plan to major in finance in college and perhaps pursue a career in investment, and this saenior project will be a great way to gain real-world experience in preparation for my academic and professional aspirations.
 

George Savin

A Backcountry Skier's Guide to East Vail
Backcountry skiing plays a big part in our community. As the number of backcountry travelers in our community increases, so does the need for resources to help these people make informed choices. My solution is to make a website for East Vail Chutes that has avalanche and weather forecasts, terrain options, and that indicates dangerous terrain on commonly skied lines. This website will hopefully help our community stay safe and think twice while making decisions about travel in the backcountry. Kelli and Kreston Rohrig, who work for Colorado Avalanche Information Center and many other backcountry outfitters around the world, will provide me with guidance throughout the project. I plan on interning for them as well. My written component will consist of research on the history of backcountry skiing in the Vail Valley, snow science, and backcountry rescue techniques.  
 

Nellie Smith

Stargazing as Therapy
There are around 400 billion stars in the galaxy and 500 million galaxies in the universe. I have always found this ever-expansive sky fascinating and often use it as a calming presence whenever I feel overwhelmed or stressed. For my project, I plan to study how the night sky affects the human brain. My goal is to create a stargazing therapy that I can share with others. To create this, I will research alternative therapies such as ecotherapy and I will photograph the night sky so its meditative effects can be accessible to and used by my community. For my written component, I plan to publish an article in the newspaper about my topic. My independent research and interactions with experts in the fields of photography and therapy will allow me to educate my community and the broader world about the positive effects of stargazing therapy. I recognize the benefits that I have received from the night sky and wish to share this peace and comfort with others in my senior project.
 

Ripley Stone

Realizing Sustainable Architecture with CAD
As we progress into the 21st century and the human impact on the earth and its environment have become more evident, building green structures has become increasingly important. Through my project, I plan to explore the world of architecture and learn how to design a sustainable house. I will study how modern architecture and technology has progressed throughout the 20th century and has given us the tools to be able to create sustainable structures. I will be using CAD (computer-aided design) programs to make a virtual structure become a reality. I will conduct in-depth research in these areas, and I hope to create a fully computer rendered LEEDs (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) compliant structure. Working with a mentor, I will learn about architecture and will get my project approved to see if it could become an actual structure. I will use this project as and introduction to my intended major in college.
 

Maggie Sturm

South Park & Political Correctness
I plan to analyze political correctness and how the television series South Park manages to be a successful, beloved show even though it defies all modern day notions of political correctness.  My research will primarily be focused on the history and perpetuation of political correctness in our society and how South Park manages to maintain its success despite being politically incorrect. Through doing a literary analysis about controversial South Park episodes, I hope to open the discussion on the validity of political correctness in our local and global communities.  In order to do this, I hope to have a panel discussion during my presentation representing a diverse range of opinions on political correctness to show the effectiveness of my literary analyses. I have always loved the Television show, South Park, because it was never afraid to cross boundaries and make fun of everyone. It fascinates me that this show can still be so successful in our politically correct times and I’d like to explore the insight it provides to finding an alternative to political correctness.  
 

Anwyn Urquhart

Food, Culture, & Connections
In my senior project, I will dive into how different cultures use food to cultivate human connection. Food brings me joy because a meal or dish can be delicious, but more importantly, it is a time when I get to connect with my family. I am intrigued by how different dinner looks at my Taiwanese grandparent’s house versus my Scottish grandparent’s house. This has inspired me to explore the cultural differences between food and the connections that are forged through food. I will write a paper about the history and evolution of the relationship between food and human connection within various cultures. I plan to then learn how to cook the traditional dishes of a specific culture and host a dinner where I will explain the history and evolution of the food culture before guests enjoy the meal. After studying 2-3 cultures in depth, I will write an analysis comparing their food cultures and what has historically driven their evolution. My project will give me the opportunity to learn a vital life skill in cooking in addition to obtaining a better understanding of cultures outside my own.
 

Cameron Wolfe

A Virtual XC Ski Trainer
With the rise of platforms such as Peloton and CycleOps, virtual training allows one to add a visual element to what is otherwise spin biking inside. I will be exploring how this technology can be applied to my XC Skiing training. To achieve this, I will be using a SkiErg—a vertical rowing-like machine used to simulate double poling—and the PM5—Performance Monitor 5, that collects data on the SkiErg. I will also write software to display performance metrics on a screen mounted to the machine combined with video shot from the perspective of the skier on the trails. For my written component, I will document the steps in my development process as well as the challenges/setbacks I face.
 

Millie Zhu

Conflict Theory & Urban Planning
For my senior project, I will be researching the conflict theory of Sociology and Urban Planning. I am going to design a city with realistic plans to tackle social problems that I have I researched. During the process, I will make a virtual scale model of the city using Google Sketchup that includes detailed structures of this city as a product. I will interview professionals in this area about their opinions on the functionality of this city. I will also write a research paper about the conflict perspective of the social problems I researched.

 

About Vail Mountain School

Founded in 1962, Vail Mountain School is a K-12, coed, independent school in Vail, Colorado. Our philosophy is to provide a demanding, college preparatory, liberal arts education in an atmosphere of mutual respect between faculty and students, where nurturing a healthy self-concept and stimulating academic inquiry are parallel objectives. Intentionally designed cross-age programs promote role modeling, responsibility, self confidence, and a sense of community. Our location in the Rocky Mountains allows us to integrate the outdoors into the academic and cultural fabric of the school through hut trips, all-school Ski Fridays, and other experiential learning opportunities. The result: our graduates possess a quiet confidence that serves them well in college and in life—confidence to assert themselves in their first college level essays; to raise their hand in a class of hundreds; to live on their own for the first time, to meet with and engage their professors; and to lead among their peers.