It is hard to believe, but for the second year in a row Capstone presentations were interrupted by a March nor’easter and once again the students kept their composure and delivered a staggeringly impressive collection of presentations. As their predecessors havealumni who returned in droves to see this year’s iterationour eighth graders’ demonstrated remarkable curiosity, wonder, passion, insight, dedication, and excellence. For almost a full calendar year, they committed to the study of a singular focus and thrived in the process of learning every step of the way. This year, I watched twenty-six student leaders present on twenty-six equally fascinating and diverse subject areas. Here’s what I learned from each of them
From Millie Wallach: I learned that the intersection of women’s rights and women’s fashion through the 20th century can be found in the pages of Millie’s “Ink Magazine.” I also learned that there’s nothing quite like going first in Capstone.
From Dylan Lasry: I learned that there is a critical difference between a physical impairment and a psychological limit. I also learned that “murderball” is only slightly less frightening than its name implies.
From Talya Borisy: I learned that unlike those of us older than 37 whose opportunity to learn a new language may have passed by, the young onesspecifically, those under the age of fiveare linguistic sponges. I also learned that there’s nothing like looking up to your big sister during her Capstone presentation.
From Cole Abbott: I learned that supersonic flight is to be taken at its word a plane may literally be moving too quickly to hear its own sonic boom. I also learned that my understanding of physics could use a tune-up from Cole who could help me, well, faster than the speed of sound.
From Ellie Wade: I learned that the purpose of military service dogs has evolved as the world’s military has, turning them from once-upon-a-time mascots to invaluable allies. I learned, too, that being the fourth child in a family to deliver Capstone can be a great opportunity to learn from those that have gone before, and still have room to teach them a thing or two.
From Anyara Zapata: I learned that the thrill of eating a cookie is equivalent, at least in terms of neuroscience, to checking a text on the phone. (For sugar fiends like myself, that’s quite a thrill!) I also learned that when our students have the opportunity to revise a school tech policy, they thoughtfully turn to the data before making any big decisions!
From Charlotte Brandt: I learned that in the art of self-portraiture, even the stroke of a brush can be instilled with one’s identity. I also learned that Charlotte herself may well be on her way to becoming the next Kahlo or Sherman.
From Gavin Sparks: I learned how an internal combustion engine actually works, and it’s utterly fascinating. I also watched a BDS first (I think): a full blown motorized vehicle running in the Kiva (even if it was a souped up bicycle!)
From Alex Tobias: I learned the value of perspective and just how different things can appear depending on yours. I also learned that Alex has the entrepreneur’s spirita website, a burgeoning passion, and a true talent for aerial photography.
From Leo McKee: I learned that robots may soon be taking over the world, or, at least, they are soon taking over the world of medicine in the form of nanorobotics to heal some of the world’s most challenging illnesses. I also learned that resiliencyespecially when building your own robotic handmay be a challenging skill to teach, but it is a valuable one to learn.
From Jack Huysmans: I learned that laughterespecially when it comes during the workday and among colleagues and friendsis not just important, but it actually promotes creativityjust ask the good people at Google! I also learned that the power of a relationship between student and teacher can last from kindergarten through eighth grade just ask his mentor, Mrs. Pryor.
From Sami Awad: I learned that, rather appropriately, a curiosity about heart transplants and cardiology starts from a place of empathy, caring, and love. I learned, too, the power of our fifth grade science classroom and the trajectory it might start for the world’s next great heart doctor.
From Nate Crisan: I learned that there are some mysteries that can captivate both adult and childhood imaginations and curiosity, particularly those found at the bottom of the sea. I also learned that we have our very own underwater detective here at BDS; one of the rare few who has walked the Bimini Road!
From Alex Taylor: I learned that the primary factors contributing to the diagnosis of autism extend beyond genetics and into the realms of environment and socio-economic condition. I also learned that we need not look too far for inspiration: a friend, a family member, or an eighth grade student with the presence of a master teacher.
From Carter Wood: I learned that the lessons from apartheid-era South Africa remain profoundly relevant within the landscape of education across our country. I also learned that courage can come in many shapes and sizes, and in this case, it came in the form of a fourteen-year-old girl and her conviction in creating a meaningful dialogue for our school.
From Ayla Pfeffer: I learned that the purpose behind the practice of homework matters, that quality over quantity matters, and that age matters. I also learned that our eighth grade students, it turns out, have a rather strong opinion about homework, and that Ayla articulated it with sophisticated diplomacy.
From Jordan Clayton: I learned that there is a psychology behind the concussion epidemic that is more complex than anyone may realize. I also learned that with the game on the line, the risk of concussion will have athletes of Jordan’s caliber thinking twice about getting back into the game after a hit to the head.
From Delia Moore: I learned that the science fiction future of medicine that I read about as a child has been realized and is upon us at the Mayo Clinic Multidisciplinary Simulation Center in Florida. I also learned that the power of empathyin this case, the stitches on the foot of a sistercan inspire wonder in a Capstone student.
From Naomi Stephenson: I learned that often the best way to approach learning is with humility…it served me well while receiving a master class in Shakespeare from my mentee. I also learned that the sounds of constructionhammering, beeping, and drillingsound that much better as a backdrop to Margaret’s ridicule of the Duke of York in Henry VI.
From Tim Sandin: I learned that everyone is capable of altruism, even if true altruism may be beyond our reach. I learned also that a snow day can interfere greatly with Capstone, especially when it moves your presentation off of your birthday!
From Anjali Hudson: I learned that 70% of people lie 2-3 times per ten minutes. Actually, that is 60%. Just wanted to keep her presentation statistically accurate. I also learned that Anjali may have offered another Capstone first: the acknowledgment of Immanuel Kant and his philosophical impact on the behavior of middle school students at BDS.
From Anji Friedbauer: I learned that King Arthur of the legend may never have been a king in the first place. I also learned that her father makes a mean Merlin, and her sister may be the Once and Future King after all.
From Azusa Lippet: I learned that along the ocean floor, in the darkness of it all, there is life in the form of tubeworms and Shark-cano dwellers. I learned, too, that in Azusa lies a dormant marine biologist, ready to discover it all.
From Danny Alpers: I learned that California can be credited as the home and genesis of gang violence throughout the country as three of the nation’s deadliest gangs began there. I learned, also, that even while recovering from illness, Danny is capable of delivering a thoughtful and powerful presentation before his peers.
From Gabe Klug: I learned that to understand the world’s economy, one must first understand the terrible consequence of poverty and the pace with which the poverty gap is widening. I also learned that should I find myself or anyone else in financial crisis about eight years from now, I will know who to call and what to ask him.
From Anand Hudson: I learned that the world of cyborgs has already arrived, and the augmentation of humans has begun. I also learned that it takes an incredible amount of stamina to be featured as the final Capstone presentation on the back end of a two-day storm that moved your presentation by nearly a week.
From the mentors of these students: I learned that the power of the Belmont Day community is as strong as ever as I watched teachers, specialists, non-teaching faculty, and administrators alike make meeting with their mentees a true priority in their schedules during this fabulous journey. I also learned that the pride a student or parent feels on the day of the presentation is rivaled equally by that of the adult who had the privilege to be a mentor.
From Sarah Hughes: I learned that though she was thanked appropriately for her work on each research paper throughout the process, that the depth of her effort was far greater than the paper alone. I also learned that her baby has tremendous patience, allowing mom to get through an extended Capstone week before arriving on the scene!
From Jen Friborg: I learned that leadership manifests in many ways at BDS: in organization, in cheerleading, in prodding and pulling, and in inspiring us all to rediscover the wonder of what this journey really is all about. I also learned that she had nearly run out of 3-part metaphors, and one more snow day would have likely put her over the edge!
Congratulations to our eighth grade students on their Capstone success this year!