Bringing It All Together: The Senior Capstone Project

Hall-Dale High School, Farmingdale

"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 Senior 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 four years in a project that's meaningful to you?' "

 

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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 four 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.

This Center for Best Practice is a collaboration between the Maine Department of Education and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, made possible by the contributions of the Maine schools that share their stories.