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Bedford High School Senior Builds a Career, and a Bike

Posted: June 02, 2010
by Greg Kwasnik

When Erik Gosselin realized he had to complete a senior project to graduate from Bedford High School, he decided to build his own mountain bike.

But Gosselin wasn’t content to build just any bike. A professional rider sponsored by Gravity Project, Gosselin wanted to build a machine with the perfect geometry to absorb the rocks and roots of World Cup courses and carry him to victory.

Recently, Gosselin presented his project – or really the beginnings of it – to teachers and fellow students. After spending months designing the bike on a computer and welding parts for the frame, Gosselin is still deeply engrossed in the task.

“I learned how to fully weld, to make good welds; I had to learn CAD and also I had to learn basic machining skills – how to use the lathe, how to use band saws, plasma torches, and materials,” said Gosselin, who plans to pursue a degree in welding from Manchester Community College next winter, after he returns from competing on the World Cup circuit.

For Gosselin, who is still working on the bike, the skills learned from the project will last long after he graduates June 12.

“I wasn’t able to finish, but I have new skills,” Gosselin said. “So going to college I know how to weld, and that will definitely help with learning how to do that and get my degree in welding.”

There have been many similar stories throughout Bedford High School this year, as seniors presented final projects on topics ranging from feng shui to hypnosis to music therapy.

Each senior started working on his or her project at the beginning of the school year, and must receive a passing grade to graduate.

“It’s really a capstone project that demonstrates the student has met our overarching competencies,” said BHS Principal Bob Jozokos. “So they demonstrate problem solving, communications, management – and some of them, depending on their project - collaboration.”

This year’s seniors are the first students to graduate from the new Bedford High School, and the first required to present senior projects.

In may, teams of teachers sat on panels to evaluate the students, who each gave a 40- minute presentation on their chosen topic.

One teacher said she was impressed with the quality of the work being done by the students.

“A lot of them have really gone into things that they’re interested in outside of school, or things that they’re interested in pursuing after they graduate,” said Meghan Lydon, a Spanish teacher. “And they’ve done a really good job. They’ve been really thorough and thoughtful about it.”

Humanities teacher Matt McDonald said the projects have forced students to step outside the normal routine of projects and papers.

As a main component of the senior project, students were required to as an essential question, do research, and then apply their knowledge to that question.

“It’s not just a straight-up research paper-presentation kind of thing,” McDonald said. “They have to apply their knowledge somehow, and then during the presentation they have to talk about how they applied it.”

While Gosselin built a mountain bike to apply what he learned, another student wrote, produced and directed her own one-act play.

Jenna Hornsby started her project by questioning how an artist brings her vision to life onstage.

After researching playwrights like Tennessee Williams, Peter Shaffer and others, Hornsby staged her own play – a story about conformity in the 1950s.

Hornsby, who will attend McGill University next fall, said putting together her different interests into a tangible product was a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

“It was exciting for me,” Hornsby said. “I felt like it was very much just me in a finished product, because it had so many different things that I care about and enjoy.”

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