Teacher Daniel Neukom shows senior Leslie Rieger how to measure the oil levels in his Automobile Maintenance senior seminar (Photo by Will Wright)

Stress Management, Automobile Maintenance & Personal Finance: New senior seminars teach life skills in the classroom—and out

On the afternoon of May 12, Shewetha Prasad was stuck on the side of the road.

As she was driving, Prasad thought she noticed the car overheating and decided to pull over before she ran into any trouble.

Prasad, having no knowledge on how to fix her car, had to wait for 30 minutes before help arrived.

Prasad hopes to avoid another such incident by attending the Automobile Maintenance seminar, one of the many seminars being offered by the school to seniors.

These seminars, which replaced the traditional senior projects, took place from May 20 to 31. There were five mandatory seminars  for the seniors along with nine seminars from which they chose which ones they wanted to attend.

Automobile Maintenance, the class Prasad was most looking forward to, was an optional seminar, taught by teacher Daniel Neukom, who has taught automobile classes in the past.

Neukom taught his class how to check the oil, tire pressure, coolant, hoses, battery condition, and other fluids. He also demonstrated how to wash, wax, and detail the car.

Another optional seminar, Stress Management, was  taught by parent Kirsten Ferries, who is a Yoga Alliance Registered Teacher and regularly teaches high-school students stress management. The class focused on guided meditation and restorative yoga.

“It’s a way to naturally calm your energy and refresh your mind and body, so it’s really perfect for college students,” Ferries said.

Senior Annelise Bryan benefited from the Personal Finance course, a mandatory one, taught by alumni parent Connie Weatherholt, who has been in financial services for  20 years.

“It’s important to have a basic understanding of finances because otherwise, by the time you figure out how to manage your money, it’s too late,” Bryan said.

Educating the seniors on how to manage their finances was how head of high school Sue Nellis came across the idea of having senior seminars instead of the customary senior projects.

“Last summer there seemed to be a number of articles about the lack of financial literacy among the college students,” Nellis said. “I thought students should really know what it costs to take out a loan and how to manage their money.”

In her seminar Weatherholt discussed creating a budget in college. She overviewed topics including identity theft and fraud, investing fundamentals, credit card basics and saving accounts.

Another mandatory seminar, Safety on Campus, led by police officer John Magallanes will also be important for all the seniors, Nellis said. This class will discuss issues such as date rape and theft.

Self-help Technology, by Tom Wroten, is another optional class which 28 seniors will attend. Senior Gerardo Vergara learned how to use his computer more efficiently through this class.

Yoga, taught by alumni parent Theodora Wilner, who regularly teaches yoga, was a popular choice for seniors Annie Bell, Taylor Oeschger and William Wright.

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  “I have been convinced by the class that yoga is something I want to pursue in college,” Bell said.

Seniors Morgan Bennett-Smith and Carter Brown are looking forward to the CPR First Aid Training Class administered by the Red Cross. There will be 22 seniors attending this seminar on May 29.

The CPR First Aid Training Class is the only one that students must pay for, since they will be certified for two years. For those who want both CPR and first aid certification it is $110. For seniors who wantjust  CPR certification it is $90.

The Top 10 Resources  for a Great College Start, a mandatory seminar, was taught by Faye Dixon, a psychologist from the Mind Institute.

Another required seminar was Writing Resumes and Interviews for Jobs, instructed by parent Steve Schroeder, a businessman.

Senior Mary-Clare Bosco signed up for Entrepreneurship, an optional seminar taught by parents Karen Crawford and Jack Crawford, who have started multiple businesses.

“I have had the idea of going into business in the back of my mind, and I think the entrepreneurship seminar could be eye opening,” Bosco said.

Librarian Joanne Melinson taught College Research. “What I took away most from the class was how to make sure I do not plagiarize anything, even accidentally,” senior Ben Hernried said.

Melinson contacted the librarians of the colleges the students attending the seminar were going to. She individually helped them understand how they can make the most of the resources available to them at their college.

Bicycle Maintenance, a class senior Anthony Valdez recommended, was led by Gordon Ong, who works at  City Bike Works.

A seminar about Greek life in college, taught by teacher Kellie Whited who was involved in Greek life herself at UC Davis, is one looked forward to by senior Natalie Polan.

Whited will discuss the differences between sororities and fraternities and their recruitment processes. Whited will also talk about the benefits of Greek life.

The senior seminars will end with a career day. There will be  two panels of alumni whom the seniors can question.

A historical preservation architect, two artists, a dietitian at an eating disorder treatment facility, an animal services officer and a lawyer are among the participants.

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