For most of a student’s high school career, the curriculum is set in place for them, and while there is ample space to explore and learn, the boundaries are very much set.
However, with the Capstone projects that seniors are allowed to engage in, those boundaries are busted and students can find the freedom to present a long-term learning project that could consist of almost anything – from model UN activities to starting a musical group to organizing a school walk-out. The projects go from the traditional to the inventive, and everything in between.
This week at Revere High School (RHS), seniors presented their Capstone projects to judges and the school community on Monday and Tuesday. Some 21 projects from senior students shown months of hard work and study, all presented to the team of project judges and to others in the Learning Commons.
For a group of four students going by the band name Akasha Blue, their project included forming a band and writing original songs and music. They started last November, and worked through some difficulties, but were able to write and record three songs on an EP.
“I learned I can write songs if I really put my mind to it and really try,” said Lilu Allen. “I learned a lot of structuring, which was new to me. Writing music is something I never thought I would do, but this project inspired me to pursue this. It is something I really want to do now…This project has made music feel that much more real to me and I no longer have to be inspired to want to write songs…What I really want to do, I discovered through these several months, is to inspire kids to be passionate about something. It doesn’t have to be music, which I’m passionate about, but anything.”
Christian Sawyer, who was also part of the group with Ariana Peal and Gianna Tortoric, said they began practicing in the auditorium in November every Wednesday after school. Many times, they had already written a lot of poetry and songs but had been afraid to share it. The project helped them to bring out their creativity and put it to use.
Their three-song EP, called ‘Wake,’ was the genesis of months of hard work – work that also helped them learn to work through the creative bumping of heads with one another.
Principal Lourenco Garcia said it is the third year for the Capstone projects at Revere High, and he said it is a great experience for students to work together on their own initiated project, and practice public speaking in presenting it.
“It’s good for them because they learn while working on a wide range of issues,” he said. “Some of them have gone to New York City for the Model UN, some presented about attending the mock G-20 summit in Boston and so many other themes as well. It allows them to also sharpen their public speaking skill – giving them more confidence in presenting publicly.”
Teacher Mark Fellowes, who oversees the model UN team at RHS, said he has enjoyed the Capstone process and seeing how students take charge of their learning.
“It feels like it’s a good way to promote education and have students present something they really care about,” he said. “So much of what we do is prescribed by a pre-set curriculum. It’s determined for us and them. This gives them an opportunity to be completely in charge of their education. That’s great preparation for life because that’s what it will be like for them in a few months.”
For the Akasha Blue students, it was a way to learn together about something they love.
“We all took part in it,” said Peal. “It was a lot of work and a lot of hours for months and months and months every Wednesday after school.”