Every year at Franklin High School, all seniors, except those in AP English, must complete a “Senior Project” for their English class. For the projects, students must write a research paper of five to seven pages plus do an eight to ten minute presentation. The projects can be on any subject the student wants. The only catch, says Katie Alland, a student in Mrs. Susan Allen’s class, is the projects must be about something completely new for the student.
“We’re supposed to learn something new,” said Alland, who chose to do her project on photography. As part of the research for her project, Alland shadowed Macon County News photographer Vickie Carpenter for two days, getting tips and going to news events to get an idea of what the job entails.
Students are required to log at least 15 hours of experience with a topic of their choosing. Some students chose to learn to play a new instrument. Others volunteer with a hospital or try their hand at a new skill. Alland said that one girl in her class even learned welding.
Alland says that she has had an interest in photography for a long time but never really had a chance to study it. She got a new camera for the project.
Working with Carpenter, Alland says she learned many things, starting with the basics like shutter speed and picture composition. She also learned about what it takes to be a news photographer.
“It was fun to watch her take pictures,” said Alland of her experience shadowing Carpenter. “She taught me that sometimes I have to be a little aggressive and get in front of people to get the shot. I was kind of nervous about that, but it was fun following her and watching her take pictures of everybody and how they reacted to the pictures.”
While working with Carpenter, Alland attended the opening of the new breast cancer wing at Angel Hospital where she got to meet and photograph Rep. Heath Shuler. She also attended the Veterans Day parade. “I got out of school for the breast cancer wing opening, which was really cool,” she said with a smile.
In her presentation for the project, Alland showed many of the photos she had taken while on assignment with Carpenter. She received a grade of 98 for her project.
Alland said the experience of photographing a news event was very interesting, but her favorite subjects to photograph are nature and landscapes.
Alland, who is in the New Century Scholars program, wants to study physical therapy in college. She will attend Southwestern Community College for two years and then transfer to Western Carolina University. Later, she hopes to study at UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Alland says she will continue studying photography and hopes to take a photography class at SCC next fall.