On Monday, May 13, HBA freshmen faced one of their most common fears: public speaking. The culmination of a semester-long research project, the annual ninth grade showcase at the end of the school year is when HBA freshmen present their projects to teachers, parents and friends.

This year, students were tasked with researching careers that they were interested in pursuing. In addition to writing a paper on their findings, the freshmen also had to interview professionals in the field of their chosen careers. English teacher Lauren Takao, who came up with the idea for the project, said, “My intention for students was to introduce the research paper process to [students] and for them to become comfortable speaking in front of an audience. I think my intentions were met, as everyone did a great job.”

While the showcase project has been around for many years, the theme of the project has evolved. For many years, it was called the “ACE project”, where students researched an ancient civilization and then presented their findings as travel agents. Last year, the showcase took the form of a mock trial, where students had to defend their views on current issues. This year’s showcase featured a new topic: “My Chosen Career”. “We wanted a theme that would be applicable to what students are thinking about right now, mainly, college and career,” said Takao. Ninth grade English teacher Alexandra Taylor believes that the project will give students a better idea of what they think they are interested in. “Too many people get on a career track without thinking it through ahead of time,” she said. “They wind up with a lot of debt for college and end up doing something that they hate which could’ve been avoided.”

As the teachers had hoped, some students discovered that their “dream” career wasn’t everything that they had imagined it to be. Freshman Sarah Williams, who researched journalism jobs, decided that the stress of deadlines and the struggles of the print journalism industry are not things she wants to get in to. “I enjoyed learning about a career I might be interested in pursuing and seeing whether or not it seemed like a good fit for me,” said Williams. Other freshmen, like Kaden Kobashigawa, who researched orthopedic surgeons, are glad to know more about the realities of their ideal jobs. “I still think that I can become an orthopedic surgeon,” he said, “however, I now know how hard it is to become a physician.”

Freshman Samantha Sebastian looked into an uncommon profession: astronomers. While she was curious about studying what lies in space and beyond, she some reservations about the profession and saw the showcase project as an opportunity to find out more before making up her mind. “This English project was beyond what I expected for a quarter-long process in a positive and enjoyable way. Not only did I explore and learn about a new career I wouldn’t have thought to pursue, but I also broadened my writing and presenting skills,” she said. At the end, Sebastian decided that she would not pursue astronomy but wants to look into other careers in the S.T.E.M. field. “[Like] the infinite number of stars and nebula awaiting to be discovered so too is the amount of aspirations in my future I seek to pursue and find,” she said.

The ninth grade English teaching team feels optimistic about continuing “My Chosen Career” as a showcase theme for the next few years. Taylor said, “It went so well and we now know how the unit should flow, so I would imagine that we will do this project this way for several more years.”