Upper School independent study: Annual Fund support at work

Even in Poly’s rigorous Upper School, some students feel motivated to stretch beyond the standard curriculum through independent study of a subject that holds personal interest for them. The program testifies both to students’ ambitious curiosity and to the flexibility a robust Annual Fund promotes at Poly.

This year, Jennifer Godwin Minto, Upper School photography teacher, had the chance to work one-on-one with Aaron “Mitch” Buangsuwon ’15, who has been inspired to study street photography independently. Buangsuwon’s unique ambition expanded through a course with expert Los Angeles street photographer John Free and countless hours shooting, scanning negatives, and organizing his shots into photo essay booklets called “’zines.” Buangsuwon found his independent study pushed him to work exceptionally hard through his very last weeks at Poly. He explains, “The title of my final zine is ‘Senioritis’ because I felt that my work this semester ironically juxtaposed the usual stereotype of the laziness of the second semester of senior year.” Indeed, as Poly supporters know, laziness is rarely an apt word in the life of the school.

Buangsuwon explains his "Senioritis" zine project:

This zine is an experiment. As the title suggests, I embarked on this independent study project plagued by the typical second semester laziness that every high school veteran feels. Contrary to this stereotype, I was suddenly struck with a surge of creative energy that pushed me to plunge headfirst into creating my first zine, as well as my first large-scale photographic project.

Prior to 2015, I had only used photography to chronicle my journeys and adventures. Photography was merely a complementary action to all of the other activities in my life, being used only for documentation purposes. ... Photography has changed the way I observe the world around me ... I used to bring my camera along with me to capture my journeys; I now let my camera and creative eye lead the way.

View images from Buangsuwon's "Senioritis" zine, featuring raw, uncropped, unedited 35mm film with images loosely inspired by Kurt Vonnegut's novel, "Slaughterhouse Five."
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