Saturday, April 23, 2011

Daring and Thought-Provoking Senior Project

As you are probably aware, all Seattle seniors have to complete a year-long senior project as one of SPS' graduation requirements.  One young woman in Toppenish took a decided risk and went for broke on hers - she pretended to be pregnant for 6 months.

Right there, makes you think, right? 

Gaby Rodriguez is a 17 year-old honors student at Toppenish High School.  She told her mother, her boyfriend and her principal but didn't tell teachers and other students, 6 of her 7 sibs nor her boyfriend's parents about her social experiment.  She revealed the secret in an all-school assembly.

From the story in the Seattle Times:

The topic of her presentation: "Stereotypes, rumors and statistics."

"Teenagers tend to live in the shadows of these elements," she says.

Before removing her fake belly in front of the entire student body, she told her audience: "Many things were said about me. Many ... traveled all the way back to me."

Then, she asked several students and teachers to read statements from 3x5 cards, quotes people actually said about her in the past months.

So she lied but it was an social experiment that required her to basically give up a regular senior year for it. She had to learn things about herself and about how people were reacting to her new "condition." 

It's worked out for her.

At least one college recruiter called the Herald-Republic in an effort to speak with Rodriguez. So did a local business owner who was so impressed with her story that she wanted to offer her a scholarship.

Greene (her principal) said he was caught off-guard by the reaction, but added that it likely will lead to an overall positive experience for Rodriguez, who has a grade-point average of 3.8.

I had to wonder about some of the comments from the Times' article complaining that she tricked her boyfriend's parents into believing they would have a grandson.  I'd think most parents would be thrilled that their son wasn't becoming a father at 20.  

When I was growing up, we wouldn't have had a pregnant girl at school, sad to say. 

16 comments:

Stu said...

I loved this story. If I was a college admissions officer I would jump at a chance to recruit this girl. The commitment to the project, the willingness to sacrifice so much for the educational experience . . . this is a dream student and I hope she gets offered a scholarship to anywhere she wants to go.

stu

PS - Wanna bet Hollywood comes calling to make a movie about this? That might help her pay for college right there!

dj said...

I think the project is interesting, but if I were that boyfriend's parents, I'd be pretty upset about being sent on that emotional roller coaster.

none1111 said...

dj, my thoughts exactly. While I appreciate what she did as a social experiment, and that it took a tremendous amount of fortitude, I think it was inexcusable to run the boy's parents through the wringer like that. I'd be furious.

seattle citizen said...

I'm with dj and none: Interesting experiment, but the lie caused some people a lot of pain and consternation, I'm sure.

That's six months of believing your son is going to become a father before he finishes high school. Either way (hoping for a grandchild, which is reasonable, or upset that your son is a father so young) after six months your told it's not true, it was all made up...

I'd be furious.

Anonymous said...

I'm a proud Top-Hi graduate from the class of 1970. My next-door neighbor got pregnant during our senior year. She was not allowed to be on campus when we were there -- she had to come after school to be tutored. All of my career as a teacher and teacher educator, I've remembered that classmate/neighbor, and the great strength and resolve that got her through those tough days to earn her high school diploma. Good on ya, Gaby Rodriquez -- to shine a light for each high school girl who has had to creep onto her high school campus to EARN her diploma!

Proud Top-Hi Graduate, 1970

Dorothy Neville said...

Her boyfriend is 20 and graduated from high school in 2009. I assume he knows his parents well enough and is mature enough to decide for himself whether or not to agree to his girlfriend's plans and keep his parents in the dark.

I suspect this girl would not be seriously dating someone not thoughtful and mature. I suspect that the reactions of his parents were carefully considered. So, does that make it right or wrong? I don't know, but I figure I do not know the whole story, I do not know these people, so cannot judge.

Sahila said...

I suspect it was a good "character building" experience for the boyfriends' parents.... a good opportunity to examine their own attitudes and prejudices.... the girl did them a favour....

Stu said...

By not telling the parents, she also exposes the "adult behaviour" in this situation. Since so much of student opinion comes from parents "modeling," I think it's a valid part of the experiment.

stu

Mary said...

Yes, yes I know! Every time one of my children lied to me I was always so grateful that they exposed to me my worries/fears/prejudices/stereotypes. Sadly, they never got to append with "AND, Mom, it's a SCIENCE PROJECT!"
But if they had, my joy would have known no bounds.

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zb said...

What I want to know is how good her project was. that's the difference between a reality show/stunt and science/sociology.

Also, she really was experimenting on her schoolmates and others with deception, a project that would have a tough time flying w/ a human subjects committee. I wonder if a UW prof could get this by a committee. It would be interesting to see.

(Mary -- your kids don't try to deceive you and then tell you it was a science experiment? Mine have already tried that one on, and they're only seven and ten. So far it has't worked 'cause they had no credible evidence of the planned experiment. Someday, though. I won't be at all surprised.)

Syd said...

I don't think this is very different from the projects I have seen students do at UW - dress up as a homeless person or an obese person, use a wheelchair exclusively, etc... - recording the reactions of people they interact with. The goal is the same - learn more about how people in our culture treat people the culture defines as outside the parameters of behavior and appearance.

Is it deception? Maybe? Does it go beyond ethical practice - probably not.

That said, I probably would have left the boyfriends parents out of it (told them about the project). There were other adults available - teachers, other parents.

Cade said...

I'm with the people that thought the boyfriends' parent should have known. I'm guessing it just wasn't about acceptance of the situation on their part, but a deep emotional reaction. I would compare it to a loss or death of a grandchild. Sure, the grandchild never physically existed, but the grandchild DID exist in their minds. This has nothing to do with what they thought of Gabby or their son. Character building? I think that is a pretty silly response. I'd probably throw up.

dj said...

I don't lie to my kids to build their character, and I hope they don't do that to me. I spend a lot of time thinking about what would happen with an unexpected pregnancy, and I would honor and love my kids (and their kids) no matter what. Which is why I do feel qualified to judge that it is a cruel trick on the boyfriend's parents, even if I think the girl is too young to hold all that responsible for understanding that.

Sahila said...

Some people here seem to think the only reaction the supposed 'grandparents' would have, is acceptance of the situation and the unborn child...

I have known plenty of people where this happened in their family, and they did not accept the situation or the baby...

I think the 'grandparents' were lucky to get a chance to examine their attitudes and responses before (the unlikely?) event that they have to face the real thing....

Jamie said...

Speaking of pregnant high school students (for real), this story breaks my heart.

http://voiceofdetroit.net/?p=6582

This school had a 90% graduation rate. 90%! And Robert Bobb is Broad Academy graduate. But of course.