PUHI — Lyle Nemeth is hopeful the bicycle rack at the YMCA of Kaua‘i will still be standing when he returns from college.
Nemeth, a May graduate of Kaua‘i High School, was putting the final touches on the stainless steel bike rack he created as part of his Senior Project.
What remained was the placement of the special plaque indicating who had presented the rack to the YMCA. Nemeth needed to complete that final touch before leaving for college.
“Senior Project is the most valuable experience any high school senior can be a part of,” Nemeth said in an email. “For the first time in a high schooler’s life, they are completing a project they have selected themselves, with little or no guidance from teachers, aside of their mentors.”
The Senior Project provides an opportunity for students to further explore their personal and career interests through this self-directed endeavor, states the Kaua‘i High School Senior Project handbook.
Starting from the student’s freshman year, the student works on a Personal Transition Plan, a journey of self-discovery which helps the student uncover personal interests, values, natural abilities and skills.
Taking these discoveries, the school counselor designs a custom-tailored plan of action for transitioning the student through high school and on to college, or a career.
Divina Plowman, the Kaua‘i High School Senior Project coordinator, said Nemeth was one of 53 seniors who successfully completed his project this past school year. Initially, more than 70 seniors signed up to participate in the program which is a requirement to earn the Board of Education Recognition Diploma.
It is also a requirement for any student wishing to graduate with honors, including recognition as valedictorian, the handbook states.
Nemeth said students may be overwhelmed with the idea of a Senior Project, especially during their senior year when they are faced with making numerous decisions.
“However, if students take the process step by step and have a passion for their project, it is not that much of a workload,” said Nemeth, recently recognized as an Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of America’s Aloha Council. “Passion is key to this process because if a student has a passion for their project, they will not have to work one day of the entire project. They already love what they are doing.”
High school seniors will write a Senior Thesis Research Paper on a topic that reflects a personal or career interest, goal, value or belief, the handbook states. All seniors at Kaua‘i High School are required to complete a research paper as part of their senior English course requirements.
“This is the hardest part of the entire project,” Nemeth said. “But students are required to do it anyway, so this should be a reason to continue the work which has already been started.”
He said selecting the project topic was difficult, but since he was passionate about helping the community, especially if it meant benefiting an organization such as the YMCA of Kaua‘i, he felt the bike rack would be a perfect fit for his project.
“While thinking about what to do, I realized a lot of bicyclers attending the YMCA encountered problems with bicycle parking,” he said. “This made it an ideal location for my project because it encouraged physical activity for both individuals and family in a safe and aesthetic environment.”
Nemeth’s topic fell into the realm of engineering and welding while fulfilling the Service Learning/Community Service category of the school’s Senior Project requirement where the student completes a service-learning project which makes a concrete and visible impact in the school or community.
“I job-shadowed Danford Kaeo, the owner of KMK Welding, to learn how to weld,” Nemeth said. “My goal of the project was to test my knowledge while learning basic skills of engineering, all the while helping the people of Kaua‘i.”
Nemeth’s project had him working with Tom Tannery, director of the YMCA in terms of locating the rack, approving the specifications, securing funds needed to purchase the materials for the bike rack and finally, building and installing the fixture.
“His choice of stainless steel was an expensive one,” his father said while overseeing the final installation. “He needed $1,500 and if he couldn’t find someone to help pay for it, it would’ve come out of our pocket.”
Wade Nakashima, Tesoro Hawai‘i manager, Hawai‘i Supply and Distribution came through with the needed funds and with the guidance of Kaua‘i teachers Lane Tokita and Charlene Navarro, and his parents, the bike rack took shape.
“This rack should last a long time,” his father said. “Not only is it of stainless steel, his plans has it elevated to accommodate any expansion plans by the YMCA. Hopefully, the rack will still be there when Lyle has kids.”
Nemeth said he is thankful for having the opportunity to do his Senior Project.
“I learned a lot about civil engineering and doing this project helped solidify that field as my career choice,” he said. “Additionally, it introduced me to a number of successful individuals in my community which I would have never met. I now know them on a business level. I would be a different person if I did not complete a Senior Project.”
High school seniors wishing more information on Senior Projects can contact with school counselors.