Caps Off!--Senior Capstone Class Is Last Stop Before Real-World
By Chloe Coleman--Eagle Staff Writer
By the end of high school, students know how to graph functions, write argumentative essays, and summarize both World Wars, but when it comes to real life skills such as communication and problem solving, many students enter adulthood a little lacking - unless they've taken Senior Capstone.
Senior Capstone class is an opportunity for seniors to prepare for adult life by applying their passions, intellectual strengths, and experience to create a project based on their interests that can benefit the Franklin County community. The course is managed by the Eagle Tech program but is open to all seniors, and students work on a semester-long project while learning about real world issues and what they can do to solve them.
“The idea of a 'capstone' is the final piece at the top," Ross Zabloski, who teaches the Capstone class, defined. "This class is a capstone because it is the last piece that has built on everything else learned in high school. Students can use their knowledge of anything they have learned to create a project."
Students work on their project for three days a week all semester in class. At the end of the semester, they are expected to write a ten page thesis on their project. Also, they create a presentation on their project to be delivered at the Capstone Expo for the Franklin County community at semester's end.
Multiple benchmarks and skills are taught in preparation for the final project, such as finding academic articles, mastering types of citations and references, and working with a mentor.
“This class gives students the ability to dig deeper into what gets them excited and they get to become an expert in something they enjoy," Zabloski said. "This class allows students to learn anything they want that they feel like they didn’t get to learn in other classes."
The projects created in Capstone aren't decided by the teacher, though.
For example, Senior Donny Lampley focused his research on ADHD/ADD and how affected students participate in school, as well as how schools can better assist students with ADHD/ADD.
“I did my project on ADHD/ADD and as someone with it, I got to learn so much about myself and how schools interact with mental illness,” Lampley shared. "In 2020 I was diagnosed with ADHD and I realized that my whole life I had been called lazy or stupid [when] I was just fighting against my mental illness. If my teachers had just [known] how to teach in a different or better way, I could have thrived for much longer."
Capstone gives students the freedom to learn about topics important to them and share what they’ve learned with people they’re close to.
“I got to learn about what my friends really cared about, and teach them about my interests,” Lampley added.
Senior Stone Gibbs focused his research on creating a campus club to help the environment.
"Me and Jamie Brooks created a sustainability club with the help of Genesis [Cabrera-Madrigal] and Sarah [Vincent] and also made a 15 page thesis," Gibbs said.
Capstone is about more than just independent research, however. Students also spend time each week reading and discussing issues of importance to them in an effort to broaden their horizons and understand multiple perspectives.
“Students have complete choice in what we learn each semester," Zabloski explained. "Depending on the topics they choose, [that] determines what issues we look at. Last semester, we talked about gun violence, mental health, recycling, drug abuse, and education equality to name a few. "
Students also learn lessons in Capstone that benefit their everyday lives. Some are practical skills like basic first aid, budgeting, and how to cook healthy inexpensive meals. Others are "soft skills" like time management, task prioritization, and self-motivation. Each assignment allows students to take the lead; however, independence comes with responsibility.
"It was so much more freeing, more open. I got to make so many more choices for myself, which also meant that if I didn’t do my work, it was completely my fault," Lampley shared.
Any FCHS rising senior that is interested in taking Capstone can speak with their guidance counselor, even if they've already signed up for classes.