The Senior Capstone

CapstoneOne of the graduation requirements for LiHigh School is for our 12th graders to complete a Senior Capstone project. Because this is our first year actually having 12th graders, there was a little confusion among the staff as to what a Senior Capstone project should entail. After a spirited discussion last week, we finally nailed down the specifics, and I’d like the share them with you today.

The Senior Capstone is intended to serve as the culmination of everything the student has learned while attending LiHigh School. We want our students to be creative and innovative in their approach to a solution, to be adept at critical thinking and problem solving, and to have strong communication and collaboration skills. We also want them to be technologically literate, and to have the life skills that will matter most in the 21 century: flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, and a sense of productivity and accountability. We also want them to be leaders in the community who embark on projects out of both passion and duty.

If that’s what we want from our students, then the Senior Capstone has to be sufficient enough in scope to address each of those 21st century skills.

Which is why decided that each 12th grader at LiHigh School must develop a Senior Capstone project that aims to make a difference in the real world and that will require the student to coordinate their efforts with individuals beyond the school. In addition, the student must complete a 10-page research component that ensures the student has considered the issue(s) to be addressed by the project in great depth. Finally, the student must write a three-page process paper at the end of the project that reflects on the experience in an honest and enlightening way.

An example of a Senior Capstone project for a student who was interested in becoming a veterinarian or a psychologist might be to lead an event on behalf of the Rutland County Humane Society with the goal of providing kittens and puppies to a group of widows and widowers. The student would have to coordinate their efforts with the Human Society, market the event to the appropriate audience, and ensure that the event goes off without a hitch. In addition, the student would write a 10-page research paper on the benefits of animal companionship during times of grief, and then, after the event was completed, a three-page process paper on why the event was or was not successful and what they learned through the experience.

Of course, a student who was interested in biology or ceramics would propose and complete an entirely different Senior Capstone project.

The 12th graders will have the next month to create a proposal for their Senior Capstone project. At the end of the month (about two weeks after we get back from Winter Break), they’ll present their proposals to their Learning Team. If the proposal is accepted, they’ll have the rest of the school year to complete the project.

This will be a challenge for each of them. But it will also be incredibly rewarding. And that combination is what makes it the perfect culmination of a LiHigh School education.

We can’t wait to see what they come up with.