Newark High School seniors reached an important milestone in the waning days of their high school career when they made the signature presentations of their Capstone Project requirements to graduate.
“I think everything went smoothly,” said coordinator Katie Ganter, who teaches 10th and 12th grade English and public speaking. “Students seemed to be nervous, but in a positive sense. They seemed very proud of their work. It was nice to see them take pride in something they worked so hard for and seeing them hug each other in the hallway after their presentations. I sat in on a couple of presentations, and was happy to see how open and honest they were with the panelists.”
The project consists of 20 community service hours, 20 healthy choice journal entries about involvement in extracurricular activities and things students learned in health classes, a sophomore paper presenting both sides of an argument, a senior research paper, and a presentation in front of a faculty panel.
The Class of 2019 was the third to be required to complete all of the requirements to graduate. The eight- to 12-minute presentations typically included pictures of students, favorite quotes, insights about their high school experiences, an explanation of their research papers and discussions about their future plans.
The panel was comprised of NHS and Newark Middle School faculty and staff, who asked questions before evaluating each presentation based on a rubric. After a few minutes, the student was informed whether they passed or if revisions were needed.
High school and middle school students had a half-day session on the day of presentations. Pizza and snacks were available in the cafeteria for seniors.
Much of the credit for students successfully completing and unveiling their Capstone projects goes to Ganter; Amy Lannon, who teaches the Finger Lakes Community College Gemini English 101 and 103 at NHS; John Dalton, who teaches Advanced Placement English and English 11; Danielle Ohlson, who teaches English 9 and 12; and Debora Barry, a teacher assistant who supports the Capstone and NHS work experience programs.
Seniors Bailey McCormick and Connor Robbins each received positive reviews for their presentations.
“I believe it went very well,” said McCormick, who will study biology at High Point University in North Carolina.
The crux of her research paper concerned the ethical and economic impact of the Olympics on host countries.
“I find presenting to people fairly easy, but I was a bit nervous before I went,” McCormick said. “After I started, I felt fine and got into a rhythm. I had a great group of panelists, so it made presenting super easy and fun.”
Robbins’ research paper concerned how the nation’s media outlets inject their political bias into the news.
“My senior media presentation went as well as I thought possible,” said Robbins, who will study finance or political science at the University of Kentucky. “My panel of teachers was as invested in my presentation as I was, which made it easier to give my presentation. The Capstone presentation has been a project I’ve worked on and dreaded presenting for two months, but at the end of the day this presentation has allowed me to look back on my proudest moments at Newark High School.”
“Capstone has quickly become one of my favorite days of the school year,” NHS Principal Tom Roote said. “The day, which is a culmination of effort across the span of high school in some key areas that indicate college and career readiness, did not let down. I appreciated students dressing up and working hard to show mastery of the skill of speaking. In fact, I got a sense that all our presenters were being very purposeful in their effort to present clear points on which they were well prepared. I suspect it was the effort of our teachers that contributed to the clarity of the work. I heard dozens of testimonials about the day.
“Special thanks to Ms. Ganter and Ms. Barry for their Capstone coordination, and Ms. Robyn Ross for her leadership. Also, thank you Newark Middle School for joining us as panelists.”
Superintendent Matt Cook joined others in commending the students on their presentations.
“The senior Capstone Day is one of my favorite days of the year,” he said. “The reflection on their high school experience and the growth that the students show is inspirational. Also, I always learn something about what we should continue to do and what we can change to help create a better experience for every student, every day.”