Editor's Note: Associate Head of School Katie Elrod is the force behind Senior Capstone -- a dual-credit class that serves as a culmination of a student's Montrose experience. Seniors choose a pressing contemporary issue, analyze it from a philosophical, theological, and historical perspective, develop a 15-page paper, and offer a formal presentation that identifies potential solutions. In this post, Ms. Elrod shares more about what makes this program distinctive.
The goal of a Montrose education is to prepare young women to engage the world's challenges while equipping them with opportunities to develop their confidence to lead, their character to collaborate, and their intellect to solve real world problems and communicate effectively.
The Capstone embodies these goals while recognizing the uniqueness of each individual student's gifts and perspective. She chooses the problem to research; employing her agency is key. She researches the topic historically, which enables her to engage in the conversations that define the problem. She uses her intellectual training to pinpoint the causal factors at work, and she applies her knowledge of Catholic Social Teaching to offer analysis and perhaps solutions that respect the dignity of the human person and promote the common good.
One of the goals of university study is to cultivate the intellectual strengths of a scholar. These virtues range from intellectual dexterity to carefulness in gaining clarity on what is true. Scholars employ the intellectual virtues to explore topics that offer a rich pathway new insights. Scholars must be effective researchers and communicators. Most of all, scholars must have the courage to take risks and use their findings to illuminate new perspectives. The Montrose Capstone is intentionally designed as a culminating project to launch college scholars.
The most impressive part of Capstone is hearing students share their research and conclusions with confidence and conviction. While they pass through many stages in the development of this project, they always emerge confident and convicted; and their presentations are compelling. Many seniors feel that the 15-minute presentation wasn't close to enough time to allow them to share the fullness of their insights.
Montrose students have the unique opportunity to study metaphysics in 11th grade and the history of philosophy in the 12th grade, which forms their intellects for deeper thinking and broadens their perspective beyond colloquial debates.Recent topics have ranged from the juvenile justice system to government policies related to care for the vulnerable; from concussion awareness to the implications of gene editing; from drone warfare to the challenge of loneliness in a modern world. As they seek to understand the causes and formulate solutions, they frame their findings this way: "Here's what; So what?; Now what?" This line of inquiry allows them to enter college and the professional world, ready to tackle intractable challenges with grit, grace, and practical wisdom.
Sample of Capstone Projects from 2015-2018
US Juvenile Incarceration & the Movement Towards Rehabilitation
Sustainability: Large-Scale Agriculture vs. Local Organic Farming
The Rise in Technology: Advancing Businesses at the Expense of America’s Backbone
Executive Action: Undermining Democracy or Ensuring Public Opinion?
Data Security: The Crimes of the Twenty-First Century
Transhumanism: The Quest for Immortality in Science and Religion
Gender Disparity in Medicine
College Education & Finances: Is College Worth $60,000?
The Climate Crisis in Polarized America: Green is the New Red White and Blue
The Dignity of the At-Risk Down Syndrome Population
The Affordable Housing Crisis in Boston
Drone Warfare in the Twenty First Century
Beyond the Unseen: The Invisible Brain Injury
A Math Crisis: Improving Mathematics Education in the United States
Outstanding Capstone Paper 2018
The Politicization of Higher Education
Outstanding Capstone Presentation 2018 (see website for full presentation)
Self Reflection, Communication, and the Role of Technology in the Development of Empathy