In spite of the decision by the Idaho State Board of Education to waive the senior project requirement for graduation this school year, seniors in Custer County should be prepared to complete their projects.

“They just have too much done,” Mackay High School Principal Stephanie Green said. “It would be silly.”

State education board members decided to let school districts decide whether to require senior projects this year, as they did for the class of 2020 because of the coronavirus.

“Our students, teachers and administrators are dealing with a lot this year as a result of the pandemic,” board President Debbie Critchfield said in a news release. “Like last spring, the board believes it will be very difficult to complete and manage senior projects on top of everything else that is happening this year.”

“It wouldn’t be an advantage,” Debbie Sheppeard, leader of the senior project committee at Challis High School, said about waiving the requirement. Both Green and Sheppeard said seniors in Challis and Mackay are expected to turn in and present a project if they want their diploma next spring.

Green, who was the senior project coordinator in Mackay before becoming principal this year, said Mackay students start work on their projects during their junior year. They first plan and research a project and then put in the work hours required to get the service project finished during the summer.

When they’re seniors, Green said they write final reports and make their presentations. The presentations are the culmination of a lot of effort, Green said, and teach students about the fruits of hard work. The last thing she wants is to deprive students of that, she said.

Every Mackay senior has already turned in his or her 10-page research paper, Green said.