Fantastically Original Capstone Projects

During the 2019-2020 school year, the second cohort of juniors undertook and completed Capstone projects.  These projects are student-designed and completed over the span of one school year.  Capstone projects have become a major differentiator in the college application process and also give students an opportunity to work more independently, practice time management on a long term project and improve many of the critical skills needed for college success such as research, writing, presenting, and planning.  Students have an opportunity to study just about anything they want and design a project around that topic. Students are strongly discouraged from writing a research paper and are instead encouraged to create something to share their knowledge and mastery of a new topic in a more hands-on and creative way.  This year’s projects accomplished all of those goals and the final products were varied and quite impressive.

Bella Brown '21 showcased her writing on a website and blogged about the creative process.

Eight students began the Capstone journey this fall under the direction of former faculty member Dr. Elizabeth Radday.  Dr. Radday currently works for Skills21at EdAdvance 500 Internal Server Error

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Via Masina '21 was inspired for her Capstone project, 'Meatless Mondays', while she was in India for the Round Square International Conference in September

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Students set off for Spring Break in early March with plans to get some work done during their time off and really hit the ground running for the final term of the year.  Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted all of the students’ projects in a variety of ways and led to some incredible pivots and some unavoidable pauses in work.  Via, Devin, Cole, and Dante realized that their projects were unable to happen during the spring term but are committed to their projects so, rather than pivoting and create new projects, they plan to complete their projects in the fall.  

Olivia Pignataro '21 created artwork from 'found' items in natural areas around campus and near her home. 

Four students make some adjustments to their work and were able to successfully complete their projects.  Bella continued to write, and while she and Dr. Radday could no longer meet in person, their weekly Zoom meetings kept them connected and Bella was able to share her work with others via Google Docs.  Her final collection of four short stories is now available on her website.  Olivia’s hiking plans were put on hold for a few weeks and then as people were more comfortable once again leaving their homes, she was able to hit the trails.  Unfortunately, much of the garbage she encountered was dirty tissues and used face masks, which she wisely decided not to collect.  She did find other usable trash and natural materials that could become part of her collages.  Her final collages were juxtaposed with a photo she took on each hike.  She recreated the photo using the found materials on each hike and also wrote powerful reflections on her experience hiking and observing the trash left behind. 

Koby Mbonu's hand-knit 'game rating' scarf

Madeleine was inspired by the current pandemic to re-work her history documentary to instead focus on global pandemics throughout history including the Bubonic Plague and the AIDS crisis.  While unable to complete interviews as she hoped, instead Madeleine taught herself how to create animation and wrote and narrated her own script. Her final video is both educational and artistic. 

Finally, Koby noted that Rashford’s season was cut short, as were all sports seasons, with the pandemic.  However, he did create a knitted scarf that used three different shades of red to illustrate Rashford’s game rating.  For each game, he knitted two rows of white (win), black (loss) or gray (draw), and then knit four rows corresponding to his game rating.  The final scarf is several feet long!

On June 3rd the Capstone students had their final Zoom meeting and presentations.  Many faculty members joined in along with the students’ parents to see the final reveal of their year long work.  Each student had an opportunity to share their project and faculty members shared their comments, accolades, and impressions.  All the projects were well received and all students were encouraged to continue their work in different ways.  Madeleine plans to add more to her film about other plagues.  Olivia will continue to hike this summer and create more art.  Bella was encouraged to look into publishing opportunities for her short stories. Koby was encouraged to think about his data scarf as a business proposition. Perhaps coaches and players would love scarves that show off their records for the season as a neat way to “wear” their data!   

Marvelwood plans to offer Capstone again next year to interested and motivated juniors.  Email Academic Dean, Dr. Heather Hunt for more information.

Project links:

Maddie Paddock '21 reworked her history documentary to focus on global pandemics in response to Covid-19