Newark seniors make Capstone Project presentations

COURTESY OF BRENDA SCHOOL

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. 

Leah Lockwood, who will major in sports media at St. Bonaventure University in the fall, presents “How COVID-19 Increased the Disparity Between the Rich and the Poor.”

“It’s been a challenging school year for our students due to the pandemic,” said coordinator Katie Ganter, who teaches English for grades 11-12 and public speaking. “It was awesome to see our seniors rise to the occasion and successfully share their presentations. I love seeing how proud they are of themselves when they are done. This year in particular, many staff members commented on how open and honest the students were, and how that made the presentations even more meaningful.” 

Julius Teabout presents his senior research paper on Gwendolyn Brooks, who became the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize with her poetry award in 1950. Teabout plans to study accounting at St. Bonaventure University.

The Class of 2021 is the fifth class to complete the projects, which require volunteer community service hours, health choice journal entries about involvement in extracurricular activities and things they learned in health class, a two- to three-page paper in 10th grade covering both sides of an argument and a conclusion, and a four- to five-page senior research paper.  

Capstone projects end with eight- to 12-minute presentations in front of four or five faculty members from NHS and Newark Middle School. These presentations include pictures of the student, a favorite quote or two, insights about their high school experience, an explanation of their senior research paper and discussion about their future plans.  

Jason Fleischman, who enlisted in the U.S. Army last October, did his research paper on why diesel engines are a better option.

Panelists asked questions before evaluating each presentation based on a rubric. After a few minutes, the student learned if they passed or needed to make revisions. They also received their caps and gowns for graduation on June 25.  

Approximately 140 students gave presentations in classrooms throughout the high school. Cupcakes and snacks were available in the cafeteria.  

Jackson Vermeulen, who enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, will start a five-year accelerated Master of Business Administration program at Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall, where he will major in business management. His research paper covered the works of Robert Frost.

Ganter said much of the projects’ success are due to the ongoing work of the 12th grade English Department and Debora Barry, workforce coordinator for the Newark Central School District.  

“It's challenging to describe Capstone Day in a way that does it justice,” Ganter said. “Our graduating seniors share their personal journeys through life and their education. The day gives us a glimpse of the future, and it's bright. As educators, the experience is truly moving and we can't wait to see what the Class of 2022 will do next year." 

Debora Barry, left, with valedictorian Rachel George.

Superintendent Susan Hasenauer joined others in commending seniors on their accomplishments. 

“The NHS Capstone Presentation Day is an inspiring reflection of our seniors’ high school experience and growth,” she said. “I congratulate the Class of 2021 on achieving this very important milestone.”