Art by Ella Benitone
Term Paper falls in the third quarter of sophomore year. Every sophomore chooses a topic they are interested in and writes a paper about it. The writing and research process happens in the history and English classes.
Caroline West (10) is doing her term paper on the effect of media on women’s body image. Her topic includes the study of eating disorders. “Diet culture is so strong in the world right now, and I’ve seen it hurt so many of my closest friends. The media contains things such as #fitspo, #thinspo, new fad diets, photoshopped models, workout routines and unrealistic ideals for a normal person,” she said. West not only wishes to raise awareness but also wants to show other, healthier ways of dieting. She said, “I’m trying to debunk these ideals and show there is another way. Doctors have also acknowledged the problem and further research has been done. I want my paper to expose some of the unrealistic expectations that Americans (especially teens) live by.”
Louise Laney (10) is writing about Title IX. She said, “Title IX is a law passed that says you should not discriminate by sex with federally funded programs. I chose this because I enjoy sports and the increase in women’s sports is Title IX’s biggest impact.”
Erin Monroe (10) is researching Alvin Ailey and his effect on American culture and dance. “I pretty much chose it because I knew that I’d have fun learning more about the topic and because I figured I might as well enjoy this paper if I’m gonna be writing it for a month. I’ve actually found some really cool stuff and have been enjoying it so far,” she said.
When I asked Dr. Lyon, AP US History and Honors US History teacher why we do a term paper sophomore year instead of junior or senior year, he said, “I’d say we are the last grade where English and History are linked up. A big part of the process is that we co-teach this with the librarians. We have been doing this for decades. It is an institution in itself. It is a skill that most high schools used to do, and most colleges expect it. It is a great skill to have. We are the last one standing.”
I became curious and wondered about what Dr. Lyon would write a term paper. He told me that it would change by the next time I asked him, but right now he is very interested in Puerto Rico. His topic would be about why Puerto Rico hasn’t become a state or been granted independence.
In the spirit of allowing students to research a topic about which they have personal interest, there are several topics this year that have never been done before. Mrs. Evans, the librarian and citation goddess, listed some of the new topics. “We have the Memphis Massacre, Women of Oakridge National Lab and the Boston Molasses Flood.”
Lyon said, “They are promising. Every year we have folks that are passionate about something particular, something that hasn’t been done before. It is a robust list in new directions.”
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