With summer rapidly approaching, the Class of 2019 has begun to savour their last few weeks with friends and reflect upon their time at Riverdale. While most of their peers continue regular classes, a few select seniors elect to add a final project to their legacy. They do so in the form of Senior Projects, a program that allows students to design an experience through which they can pursue a topic of interest that would not be possible within the confines of a classroom.
Senior Elsa Chung’s passion for film drives her senior project idea. Chung plans to write a feature-length screenplay that is a modern-day adaptation of the novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley.
She explained, “The hope is to update Mary Shelley’s original mourning on the dangers of unchecked science and to look at who a human is in relation to the female body, female self, and female perspective.”
Chung will begin with extensive background research. First, she will reread Frankenstein and a few other pieces that compliment both Mary Shelley’s story and her own feminist adaptation. Next, she will dive into the lengthy writing process that involves outlining, drafting, and continually revising. Once Chung has finished writing the screenplay and creating a corresponding storyboard, she will submit to different screenwriting competitions that have a production budget as their reward. When asked about the purpose of her project, Chung shared, “Nowadays, our online profiles are the main way that we tell our stories, and I want my project to open a field of dialogue for talking about how science and technology play a role in our lives.”
Also awarded a senior project is senior Elon Collins who will be leaving behind a resource that she believes would have been invaluable in her Riverdale experience. Collins plans to create a “survival guide for black girls that attend predominantly white institutions, like Riverdale.” For her research phase, she has selected several books, articles, memoirs, and studies that involve content related to black girlhood. The next step will be to conduct interviews with people who identify as black women at other schools like Riverdale, exploring their experiences and survival tactics. Collins’s guide will be in the form of a poetry and art chapbook, which is a paperback booklet. The illustrations will be abstract watercolor portraits of the girls she will interview.
She expressed, “I know that I just had a tough time coming up [in Riverdale] feeling very isolated and feeling like nobody really understood what I was going through. I just want to leave something behind that helps other black girls who attend schools like Riverdale to navigate it a little better.”
In a similar vein to Chung, seniors Emily Patel and Sarah Brown have teamed up to fulfill their dream of writing, directing, and producing a musical. Patel illustrated, “The idea is to take the main principles of a particular category of communist psychology that explores how audiences react to what they’re watching and tie that into our own musical.”
Once the pair has compiled all of their research, they will establish a plot, create characters, and select songs. They will then start to write scenes, change song lyrics, and choreograph musical numbers. Upon completion of the book, they will cast their musical and leap into the rehearsal process.
Patel disclosed, “In a school that is not always the best about supporting the arts, we want to represent theater in a way that shows people how impactful and engaging the arts can be.”
These three arts-based senior projects strive to create meaningful conversation and leave behind essential messages to the Riverdale community.