What should have been the busiest weeks of high school lined up with exams, seniors in the International Baccalaureate program at Coppell High School find themselves losing interest. In order to battle this, IB English IV teacher Richard Orlopp came up with a project to keep seniors interested and invested, the Senior Legacy Activity, Yeet!
“Once the IB exams were canceled and we knew we were not coming back to school, I started thinking about how to redo my final unit,” Orlopp said. “I thought it might work to take the idea of using analysis and then applying that to something that would be really interesting. I often love to give an assignment with broad parameters and let my creative, genius students fill in the rest.”
In the activity, shortened “SLAY,” Orlopp gave seniors seven broad categories to focus their investigations: music, memes, TikTok, television or film studies, college writing bootcamp, book club, creator’s club, blogging or wildcard. Seniors took the creative freedom offered and ran with it.
Seniors had the choice to work alone or with groups and are embarking on a variety of projects. These include making podcasts, writing essays and blogs and creating mixtapes.
CHS senior Ananya Pagadala turned her passion for gardening into her project, a gardening blog.
“My mom has a lot of plants and she’s been taking care of them growing up,” Pagadala said. “She’s not just growing them for show, she’s growing them for herself, friends and family and I really like the idea of seeing that. I’m able to write a blog about gardening which isn’t something you would do in normal English class.”
A handful of others decided to analyze their favorite TV shows, movies and albums. The most popular topic of discussion, with over seven students, is diving into Netflix’s recent release, “Never Have I Ever.”
“Growing up as an Indian American, I was watching [“Never Have I Ever”] show from my perspective and seeing what was accurate and what wasn’t,” senior Ronak Indurti said. “While I was watching the show, I was writing down stuff to show to my friends what I liked and what I didn’t like. So being able to put this in presentation format, what I ended up doing for the final product was a video of me going over this presentation. It was criticizing [the show] even though I’m not a movie critic.”
Through analyzing the show, Indurti is able to understand the mainstream media industry in Hollywood much better.
“In this case, I saw a lot of things in the show—like whenever they were trying to discuss in their house in general, I know that in a lot of immigrant households people usually talk in their mother tongue,” Indurti said. “Because it’s geared towards western culture, they spoke the majority in English and there are one or two words in Tamil. One thing I took away was that no matter how much you want to break the stereotype, they still have to remember who the audience is. In this case, the western culture has limited their native language usage.”
In the future, Orlopp hopes that the seniors will take this experience and explore their interests. This is a lesson that he has learned over the years and wishes to instill in the seniors before they head off to college.
“Hopefully, they will see that when you are actively interested in something, learning about it takes work, but the work is meaningful and that deeper knowledge of a topic is worth it,” Orlopp said. “I have always been my happiest when engrossed in a topic that fascinated me. That’s one of the things I enjoy about being a teacher because it is so difficult that you never feel like you’ve mastered it; you are always working on it.”
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