Marshall School Senior Capstone Project
The mission of Marshall School is to educate students to become global citizens who demonstrate strong academic habits, respect, compassion, integrity, self-discipline, and intellectual curiosity.
As seniors prepare to leave Marshall School and enter the next phase of their lives, they have a chance to work independently during their last two weeks of high school, pursuing their passions through the Capstone Project. An optional program for eligible seniors, the Capstone Project encourages students to breathe life into the values of the School’s mission by designing, developing, and implementing their own service-oriented program of career exploration, creative activity, study and research, or community involvement.
Taking the mission of Marshall School as their guide, and drawing upon their previous experiences as student-members of the Marshall community, seniors offer their skills and services to the wider community while also extending their vision of themselves and their place in the world. Through this program, seniors have a chance to learn and do more than is possible within the classroom and school environment. The Capstone Project is meant to be the pinnacle–or capstone–of a Marshall senior’s high school achievement.
Seniors involved in the Capstone Project may follow one of five possible Paths:
Each of the first four Paths includes a relevant Community Service Component designed by the student, while the fifth Path, Extended Service, consists solely of Community Service. All Capstone Project activities must be uncompensated, feasible, legal, ethical, safe, and consistent with the mission of Marshall School.
Eligibility Requirements: The Capstone Project is open to all seniors (1) who have completed their Community Service Graduation Requirement and Independent Study Requirements by the second Friday after Spring Break, (2) whose Project proposals are approved by the Project Review Committee, and (3) who have received parental permission to participate in the Capstone Project program.
Time Commitment: A minimum of 40 hours of work is required for the Capstone Project: 30 hours of Path-related work and 10 hours of relevant Community Service, or 40 hours of Community Service for the Extended Service option. All 40 hours must be completed during the Project weeks (the last two weeks of Spring Semester classes). Additional hours of preparatory work may need to be completed before and during the Project weeks (preparing the proposal, for example, and then preparing the presentation), but these hours are not included in the 40-hour total.
Travel: Travel for travel’s sake may not be the focus of a Capstone Project, but travel which is necessary and/or relevant to achieve the goal of an approved Project is permitted, with parental permission. Travel time is not included in the 40-hour total.
Project Proposals: Seniors will work with their Advisor (and perhaps other faculty members, as well as community experts) all year long to design their Project and put together a thorough, persuasive, and professional proposal, which will be reviewed by the Capstone Project Review Committee (consisting of the Capstone Project Directors, all senior class Advisors and the Senior Class Dean, the Associate Head of School, the Dean of Students, the Director of College Counseling, and other faculty members, as needed). Instructions for writing and submitting the proposal are included in the Path descriptions. Note: The time required to prepare the proposal is not included in the 40-hour total.
The Community Service Component (required for all except Extended Service): All Capstone Projects require 10 hours of relevant Community Service (except Extended Service Projects, which consist solely of 40 hours of Community Service). The Community Service Component is designed by the student in consultation with the Faculty Advisor, but all arrangements are made by the student alone.
The Community Service Component must be completed outside of Marshall School and must be relevant to the Path the student has chosen. For example, a student on the Career Exploration Path who is job-shadowing various physicians might elect to volunteer at a local hospital. The student would need to prepare and complete all necessary paperwork and attend all required orientation sessions before the Project weeks begin. If a group of students were producing a benefit concert for a local charity, they might volunteer at that charity to get a sense of how the funds they raise will be put to use. Those on the Creative Path might volunteer at local schools, museums, or arts organizations. Students on the Research Path might volunteer at libraries and local schools, offering their services as mentors/tutors to younger students. Local environmental groups, the Department of Natural Resources, and various City Departments need volunteers in capacities that might mesh well with certain Research Projects. For Skill-Building Projects, the Community Service Component with vary according to the skills involved, but students are encouraged to find ways to put their skills to use helping others in our community.
The Capstone Project Community Service Component is separate from the Marshall School Community Service Graduation Requirement, which seniors must complete by the second Friday after Spring Break in order to be eligible for the Capstone Project.
All Community Service work must consist of uncompensated labor which is feasible, legal, ethical, safe, and consistent with the mission of Marshall School. Parental permission is required for this part of the project.
For the Project proposal deadline, students must provide a work schedule (of dates, times, locations, and activities planned) with detailed contact information (full names, job titles, phone numbers, mail and email addresses) for all supervisors. Students must also prove they have completed all required orientation sessions and paperwork for their proposed Community Service work.
Working with one’s parent(s), or only the parents of Marshall students, will not be approved by the Review Committee.
Seniors must complete the Community Service Component to the satisfaction of the faculty judges and Project Directors in order to pass their Projects. Submission of an electronic verification form from each supervisor is required before the presentation day.
Group Projects: For all Paths except Career Exploration, students may work in groups, if doing so is necessary and justifiable, but the Review Committee examines group proposals with special attention. Students must think carefully about exactly how many people their Project truly requires and avoid adding friends to their Project out of a misplaced sense of generosity. Each member of the group must be able to account for 30 hours of Path-related work and 10 hours of relevant Community Service, all to be completed during the Project weeks. Thus, a group of five must propose a total of 150 hours of Path-work and 50 hours of Community Service, for a cumulative total of 200 hours.
With good group Projects, each member makes a unique contribution to the common goal, and the Review Committee looks for evidence that each member is in charge of a distinct aspect of the Project. For example, a group of students plans to make a film: one student writes the script, two students do the acting, one student controls lighting and videography, and yet another builds scenes and creates costumes. Ideally, group members will follow different Paths to achieve the group’s goal. In the aforementioned example, the scriptwriter and set/costume designer are taking the Creative Path, while the actors and camera operator are taking the Skill-Building Path.
Each member of the group must submit a separate and personal proposal. Identical proposals from group members will not be accepted.
Students should not stake the success of their Projects on the participation of seniors whose grades may require them to be in classes during the Project weeks. Students must have a backup plan in case a group member needs to drop out at the last minute.
All group members must share equally in the Project presentation and play a distinct role in its production.
The pass/fail status of a group Project is neither entirely individual nor entirely shared; therefore, any problems with group dynamics must be reported to the Project Directors immediately so alternate arrangement may be made before presentation day.
Project Presentations: Showcasing the results of their Capstone Projects, seniors will give 20-minute formal presentations on the Monday of Spring Semester Exam week (each Project is scheduled for a 30-minute time-slot, to allow for 10 minutes of questions and answers). On presentation day, all members of the school community are invited to attend the Capstone Project presentations, and a barbeque lunch is provided.
Project presentations may take many forms: performances, demonstrations, film screenings, poetry-readings, video-logs, PowerPoint presentations, or formal speeches. Seniors are expected to produce some material evidence of their work (written work, art work, film, recordings, videos, photographs, etc) or to provide proper verification of completed work, as defined in the specific Path guidelines. The best presentations not only provide ample and tangible evidence of the work completed but also demonstrate the depth, sincerity, and intensity of the student’s involvement in the learning process. Note: The time required to prepare presentations is not included in the 40-hour total.
Grading and Graduation Requirement: Once a senior is approved to do a Capstone Project, completing that Project becomes a Graduation requirement. Projects are graded pass/fail by a panel of faculty judges on presentation day. Projects are judged on the basis of whether or not the Path-related work and the Community Service Component are completed as described in the senior’s approved proposal. Seniors who fail their Projects will not receive their diplomas until they have satisfied all requirements as determined by the Capstone Project Directors and/or the School Administration. Second-chance presentations are scheduled on the Thursday before graduation.
Technology: Presentations involving the use of any technology (flash drives, Mac computers, etc) create certain challenges which the student must anticipate and plan for. Performing a trial-run of the presentation is highly recommended. Technological malfunctions may require a second-chance presentation (on the Thursday before Graduation), and the student will not pass the Project until the technology issues are resolved to the satisfaction of the Project Directors.
Exam and Attendance Policy:
- During the last two weeks of Spring semester, seniors with approved Projects will be excused from attending any class in which their second-semester cumulative grade is a B or above (as determined on the Wednesday before the Project weeks begin).
- Participating seniors with second-semester grades below a B will need permission from their teachers to be absent from those classes
- Participating seniors will also be exempt from all second semester final exams in year-long classes in which their cumulative semester grade is a B (not B-) or above, as calculated on the Wednesday before the Project weeks begin.
- Students are required to take exams for classes in which they have second-semester grades lower than a B. Teachers have the option to require students taking exams to attend some or all classes.
- Teachers of semester-long classes may require a final project, paper, or exam from all seniors in their classes, regardless of the students’ grades or Project eligibility.
- Seniors with one or more course grades below a B may still participate in the Capstone Project Program, but they must take final exams in those classes (and only those classes), with specific attendance and academic responsibilities during the Project weeks to be determined by the teachers of those classes. Obviously, however, ending the second semester of the senior year with a full slate of Bs makes it easier to do a Project!
- Seniors who choose not to participate in the Capstone Project, or whose Project proposals are not approved, are required to attend all their classes and to take all their final exams, regardless of their grades.