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Friday, July 10, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Culminating project combines ideas, dreams


Emily Matthews' bass doesn't play a note but opens to reveal shelves that hold high school memorabilia. 
 (The Spokesman-Review)
Emily Matthews' bass doesn't play a note but opens to reveal shelves that hold high school memorabilia. (The Spokesman-Review)

Emily Matthews has learned that it’s always good to have a Plan B, and maybe even a Plan C.

The University High School senior learned several life lessons while working on her culminating project, a graduation requirement in the Central Valley School District.

Students spend their senior year working on a project that demonstrates what they’ve learned during their academic career. The project includes research, a written description of the project, a judged oral presentation and a written post-graduation plan.

The culminating project has been a requirement in the district for the past five years and with the Class of 2008, it will become a statewide graduation requirement.

Matthews’ original idea was to combine her love of music with a sheet metal project by creating a life-size replica of a string bass.

“I wanted to make it musical, but instead it turned out to be a piece of furniture,” said Matthews, who has played the bass since she was 12.

The 6-foot tall royal-blue bass doesn’t play a note of music. Instead, the bass opens to reveal a set of shelves that hold Matthew’s U-Hi yearbooks, Stinky Sneaker T-shirts, pompoms and other school memorabilia.

Matthews said teachers at U-Hi wanted to know why she painted the bass blue, cross-district rival Central Valley’s color, but she said blue has always been her favorite color.

Pat Matthews, served as his daughter’s mentor for the project. He works at Apex Industrials Inc., a precision sheet metal manufacturing company, where Emily also works part time.

The crew at Apex used their expertise to help build the metal bass.

Pat Matthews enjoyed mentoring his daughter. “It was fun working together. It was great to see her ideas and dream come together.”

“We just kept going with different ideas when something didn’t work out right. We tried to make a curved back (on the bass) but the 18-gauge metal didn’t work,” said Emily Matthews.

She did 30-hours of research on how to build a bass before starting the project, and while she didn’t do any of the metal cutting or welding, she designed and managed the project from beginning to end.

Matthews said completing the project improved her math, leadership and public speaking skills. It also taught her to learn from her mistakes and that anything is possible.

“People thought I was crazy to try to make a metal bass. Some days I woke up and just wanted to get it done and over with, but it really brings me joy. I love my project,” said Matthews.

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