Hamilton High School senior projects are making a difference in the community.

Project presentations are scheduled for 6 - 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 9.

Two seniors decide to create “Bronc Park,” a community space, from the unused area near the corner of Freeze Lane and Marcus Street.

Ani Mason and Lauren Ryter saw the unused triangle-shaped acre as having potential.

“It was such an unused piece of land,” Ryter said. “It is so close to the soccer fields, track and softball fields, that we thought why not make it a little area where people can hang out, watch games and enjoy the outdoors.”

They started work in November, realized the project would take multiple years and are hoping future seniors continue the work.

“There isn’t much to it yet, but it is a work in progress and we hope it will be a flourishing park one day that the community and school can use,” Mason said. “We want lots of people to be able to hang out here and have fun.”

“We’re getting this started and then it will need to be continued by others,” Ryter said. “This is phase 1.”

Weeds are removed, cheat grass raked up, a cement pad is in place and a tree is planted.

“When we first started this project we really wanted to put a walking path through here,” Mason said. “We wanted to connect The Arbors and other walking paths. As the project progressed we realized we had to narrow down and focus.”

The cement pad is for the cement table built by Ray Allison for his senior project. Mason and Ryter won it in a fundraising drawing that supported a Corvallis family battling against breast cancer.

Allison, and girls’ fathers, helped them pour the concrete that Mason called a “big project.”

“It was over 40 bags of cement and we were here using a mixer and hand-pouring it,” Ryter said. “The table will have plaques with our names. We received a lot of generous donations from Ace and Massa.”

The seniors envision a park with a walking path, irrigation, plants, playground equipment, picnic tables and benches and a bridge across the irrigation ditch.

“Down the road we’d like to see a doggie bag station for cleaning up for people who do walk their dogs here,” Mason said.

As for their project, Mason and Ryter said they were way over the 30-hours required by the school.

Permission had to be obtained from the school, school board and maintenance. The school will retain ownership of the land that is in between the ditch and a softball field.

Advisors for the project were Maria Antonioli and Birch Fett.

Antonioli said she appreciates that, “Ani and Lauren finally did something with that corner of school property.”

“Since we moved into this school 19 years ago, so many people have talked about making it into some kind of public park and I am delighted that these two senior girls have finally got the ball rolling,” Antonioli said. “I'm hopeful that other students will be interested in continuing to improve upon their impressive start.”

Fett said Mason and Ryter were self-starters, able to guide the project and propel it forward.

“It is a nice project,” he said. “I see it as a conservation project that creates awareness of what is in this valley. It is perfect for a chunk of real estate that currently doesn’t have anything. It is a beautiful complex that needs ‘Bronc Park.’”

One of the steps of the senior project is each senior also had to each write an eight-page paper about the topic or similar to it.

“I wrote mine about the importance of being outdoors, getting exercise and how nature boosts your mental health,” Mason said.

“I wrote about native plants and the importance of incorporating native plants in the community,” Ryter said. “Our tree is native, a green spire Lyndon. We needed something somewhat drought resistant.”

Winter weather and personal health issues delayed the project that they hoped would be further along.

After graduation Ryter plans to attend Rocky Mountain College and study environmental science. Mason is heading to Montana State University to study physical science and may become a physical therapist, personal trainer or in sports rehabilitation to help athletes recover from injuries.

“I’m excited to come back to the park years from now and see how it has developed,” Mason said.

The community is invited to hear about all of the 2019 senior projects that include a golf tournament to benefit Montana veterans, designing a smart phone app, volunteering in local nonprofits, a portable saddle rack donated to a horse rescue program, designing and painting positive-message themed murals on the stalls in girls bathrooms, providing school supplies to children in Niger, participating in several leadership conferences/summits and learning Japanese and assistant teaching Japanese at the middle school.

The Senior Project Night from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, needs volunteer panelists to help judge the projects.

HHS teacher Neil Massey is in charge of the senior projects that fill a requirement for an English credit.

“Last year, the panelists were widely enthusiastic about the experience, citing the range of interesting topics and the impressive amount of preparation and polish that our students demonstrated,” Massey said. “The evening offers a glimpse inside the final year our students complete in this district. Come see how their K-12 journey has ended.”

Hamilton High School seniors are looking for volunteers.

“As the Class of 2019 prepare to present their year-long service projects to the community, they are in need of an academic audience to listen to presentations, evaluate the performance and ask engaging questions,” Massey said.

Volunteers will receive training. They will convene in the high school library for a half hour of orientation at 6 p.m. on May 9. A head-panelist will lead each panel through the process. The presentations will take place in classrooms with four to five community members per room who will listen to four to six senior presentations.

“All necessary materials will be provided—simply show up and the rest is easy,” Massey said.

If interested, contact Massey masseyn@hsd3.org, Jane Mason masonj@hsd3.org, or Diane Weeks weeksd@hsd3.org or call 406-375-6060 (ext. 0).