Bringing it all together: The senior capstone project

Superintendent: I’m Virgil Hammonds, RSU 2
Superintendent, and what you’re witnessing today is all of our senior graduates are presenting
what we call their Capstone project, and this is a project that they select themselves.
It’s basically a project that they are passionate about, that they want to see through, that
they want to see to completion. Really, it’s an opportunity for them to the
prove all of the knowledge and skills that they’ve acquired while at Hall-Dale High School,
and ultimately culminating in something that, potentially, they can pursue in the future. A big part of the process starts, as you’re
seeing today, with our middle school kids who are already starting to gather some ideas,
what are things that engage them now they may want to pursue, to thoroughly research
and study in the future. Student: I knew I would have to do Capstone
in Middle School, probably 6th or 7th grade, coming to this exhibition and seeing all of
the possibilities I could do. So I’ve known for a while and I’ve tried to prepare myself
with thinking, ahead of time, about topics I’d want to do. Superintendant: In the learner-centered model,
we want kids to apply the content to a subject matter that is meaningful to them every single
day, not just in their senior year. Student: For my Capstone project, I did animal
adoption and, for my fieldwork, I organized a dog speed-dating event for the Kennebec
Valley Humane Society. Superintendent: Well, we’re feeling is that
it’s not just about doing school anymore. It’s about really engaging kids in projects
that are meaningful to them, not necessarily to the school district, or the teacher that
sits before them. Really the kids, initially, they struggle
with it. “What do I want to do? What do I want to tackle? What goals do I have for myself?”
And so they struggle through the planning process, much like we, as adults, do as we
struggle through a project. The whole idea around student-centered learning
is to engage kids in something that is meaningful to them. And so, when they step into the Capstone
class, it’s really about asking them, “What are you passionate about?” and “How can you
apply all the content that you’ve learned over the last 4 years in a project that’s
meaningful to you?” Student: I realized how much I needed to be
self reliant, and it was really up to me to make my own deadlines, and to be assertive
in finding my expert mentor, and getting what I wanted done, and getting the results I wanted. And I learned I actually really enjoyed organizing
events, so that was fun because, that made it a lot more enjoyable. Superintendent: When it comes to this point
in the year when they’re presenting their culminating project, it’s amazing to see the
pride and the confidence that they exude when they’re making their presentations.

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