Capstone presentations the last step for seniors before graduation

By Eman Albash ’10

As the school year comes to a close, students of all grades start to wrap up their last minute assignments, projects and papers. Seniors in particular have one last hurdle to overcome before they can graduate— their Capstone presentations. The presentations, held on May 25, allowed students to discuss all the aspects of their Capstone projects.

Girls from the Dominican Republic show off the beads they made with UAHS student. Photos courtesy Julie LaudickOne of the requirements of the Capstone project was 16 hours of community service. Most seniors stayed fairly close to UA to complete their service hours, but some students traveled out of the the country for service, including senior Julie Laudick. As an IB diploma candidate, Laudick was required to complete a CAS project, which is comparable to Capstone. CAS, which stands for Creativity, Action and Service, requires students to a community service project that somehow impacts the world. Although students are not required to leave the country for the service, Laudick chose to go to the Dominican Republic on a mission trip to build houses.

“My trip to the Dominican Republic is the most memorable [experience],” Laudick said. “I loved being entirely immersed in the Dominican culture. We slept in hammocks, ate the native food, spent some time in the town and got a chance to talk to local high school kids about their experience.”

Community service was only one portion of Laudick’s CAS project, however. The long term part of her project was designing and implementing a nature trail at Shepherd’s Corner Farm and Ecology Center in Blacklick County. Laudick said the self-guided trail was essential because the farm lacked enough staff members to lead tours all the time.

“The idea for the trail was inspired by the growing need for an escape from technology and everyday life,” Laudick said. “We wanted to create a space where people could take some time to breathe, learn and grow. Every station has an activity, some information about nature, along with proverbs and inspirations from different faiths and cultures around the world.”

Like Laudick, senior Abby Moore traveled to another country for her Capstone project. She went to Caliche, Honduras on a mission trip, and focused on building houses and supplying items for the houses and medical clinic. Near the beginning of senior year, Moore held a bake sale and took donations to raise money for needed items, such as silverware, blankets and beds. Moore said her favorite part of the trip was having the chance to help the villagers.

“The best experience was when we got to dedicate the houses and give them to the new owners,” Moore said. “The Hondurans receiving them were so thankful and it was then that I knew I really made a big difference in their lives and the lives of the people in the village.”

For her final product, Moore created a booklet and iMovie documenting the work she did in Honduras. Moore said although she faced different obstacles, the hardest part of her Capstone project was leaving Honduras.

“I would have loved to stay there longer,” Moore said. “It was so hard to say goodbye, not only to the two families, but the other villagers we had gotten to know during the week as well.”

Although certain Capstone projects required some students to leave the country, other seniors excelled at the project without traveling. Senior Phil Lindsay recorded and released an album called The Family Plot for his Capstone project. He said his love for music gave him the idea to record an album.

“It has been a goal of mine for a long time to release a full-length album,” Lindsay said. “I have always loved music and have been playing in various bands and projects throughout high school, so it seemed like the only thing I’d have interest in doing.”

For the community service aspect of his project, Lindsay helped raise money for the Deep Griha Society, a mission organization in India, as well as interning at a recording studio.

As a reward to hardworking students, teachers have created the Matt McCoy Senior Capstone Project Award to be given to the two best Capstone projects.

Although Lindsay was not nominated for the award, he said he thinks the Matt McCoy award is a helpful incentive for students.

“I think [the award] cultivates a competitive mind set when doing Capstone in a lot of people,” he said.

To be a Matt McCoy candidate, students has to be nominated by a language arts teacher and then narrowed down to a group of 10 finalists by a jury. From that group, the Senior Capstone Project Jury will select the winners. First-place winners will receive $1000 and second-place winners will receive $500. Although all the work that goes into the Capstone projects can get stressful, the Matt McCoy Award gives seniors motivation to work hard on their projects.

Laudick said that overall, she feels like she did well on her Capstone project. Although she faced challenges related to construction and other details, in the end she was able to overcome the obstacles. She also had some advice for future seniors.

“I would advise the seniors next year to pick a project that they are really passionate about,” Laudick said. “If you use Capstone as an opportunity to pursue something you really love, all of the requirements and writing should follow naturally.”