Capstone: What’s all the Hype About?

The ins and outs of the most talked about project in upper school

Capstone: What’s all the Hype About?

One of the biggest milestones of someone’s life is graduating high school. At PCA, the portrait of a graduating senior looks different from other schools however. The portrait of a graduate includes five different qualities that graduates should strive to express even after their time in high school, the traits being Reverence For God, An Eternal Perspective, Christ-like Humility, Scholastic Excellence, and Critical Thinking.

Capstone represents a culmination of the five qualities of the portrait of a graduate in the form of three formal essays, a synthesis essay, and an oral presentation in front of a panel of teachers and administrators.  

Students first write a historical analysis over an approved literary work. According to the prompt, the historical analysis essay challenges students to write a well composed essay on the “time period in which the literary work chosen was set and/or written, and how the historical milieu of the time period influenced the literary elements of the work.” The word count minimum for the historical analysis essay is 1500 for college prep, 2000 for honors, and 2500 for AP.

Next is the philosophical or theological analysis of the same literary work. Students choose whether they want to write an essay over their literary work using either a concept learned in the senior philosophy class such as nihilism, or a theological analysis. The word count minimum for the philosophical analysis is 1000 words.

The final formal essay is the literary analysis of the selected literary work. It is the longest and most comprehensive essay of the three. Students must analyze the author’s depiction of a specific theme or aspect of humanity and examine how the author portrays this theme or aspect. The word count minimum for the literary analysis essay is 2000 for college prep, 2500 for honors, and 3000 for AP. 

The synthesis essay is the last written portion of capstone. Students must choose one characteristic of the portrait of a graduate to use as a lens through which to examine, analyze, and evaluate the concepts/topics/ideas/themes of your Literary, Historical, and Philosophical/Biblical Components as well as the effects The Portrait perspective has had and/or will have on your personal approach to the concepts/topics/ideas/themes examined in the varied components of your Capstone Essay. 

The oral presentation is the cap to capstone, the last hurdle to jump over in the process. Students must prepare a five minute presentation introducing themselves and the subject matter they wrote about in their respective capstone essays. The student will then present their speech to a panel for five minutes, then will be asked questions by the panel for another five minutes.

Capstone is a difficult process, but the sense of accomplishment once it is complete far outweighs the struggles writing the essays.