The administration should make Capstone less college-centric.


With the final quarter in sight and scheduling deadlines approaching quickly, students, especially upperclassmen, are fretting over graduation requirements. Every senior is required to complete a project that demonstrates creativity, independence, and thoughtfulness through a research topic of their choice. This allows students to explore subjects they are passionate about and spread awareness to the community. Capstone projects are what the majority of Upper Arlington students complete in order to fulfill this requirement. Senior Capstone involves research, a portfolio and a presentation. However, there are alternatives for students who prefer a different approach to learning. This includes the International Baccalaureate (IB) Extended Essay, which is a self-directed 4,000-word research essay.

Although there is a degree of flexibility and freedom in that students choose their own topics, Capstone and the IB Extended Essay face their own share of criticism. The research-based nature of these options are considered to be college preparatory. Both of these have significant academic components that foster the development of school-oriented skills. There is no option tailored toward students who don’t plan on attending college or who choose to enter the workforce or military directly after high school. It is necessary to provide a variety of opportunities for students, regardless of their chosen path.

One substitute for Capstone that now-seniors may have heard of was Community School. Community School (CS) was a tight-knit group of students who thrive in a different type of learning environment. CS was beneficial to numerous students and provided a safe place to share their thoughts. In the transition to the new high school, CS was eliminated, which represents a severe oversight of its importance and a disregard for the well-being of each and every student. Students were once again limited to two choices, neither of which are the best fit for everyone. 

We implore administrators to reconsider the dissolution of Community School and shift the college-centered mindset of Capstone and the IB Extended Essay towards a more inclusive viewpoint. Beyond the community of Upper Arlington, we urge society to take a new standpoint on the necessity of higher education. College isn’t the right fit for every person, and no one should be looked down upon for their individual journey in life; their prior education should not be targeted away from their interests and passions. Especially when many families don’t have the financial means to support a college student, college should not hold so much weight in the high school classroom.