A unique element of our High School curriculum is the annual capstone project. Each year the students choose a topic within the scope of their history/literature classes focus. The topic must relate to an issue that has different sides or perspectives. Students do research, choose to support one viewpoint on their subject, and write a paper presenting and defending their position. They must include in the research and the paper the alternative viewpoints. These projects increase in length and research depth and culminate in the Senior Thesis.
The Senior Thesis and Internship Program challenges our seniors to think critically and Christianly about a topic of particular interest to them and then to explore how that issue is played out in the workplace. All this is done in a friendly, challenging environment where faculty and students together pursue “the good, the true, and the beautiful,” all to the glory of God.
The Senior Thesis is the culminating work of a WCA graduate. At WCA, our entire curriculum is designed to encourage students to think in an interdisciplinary way. The Senior Thesis is designed to help students advance their abilities to do this kind of critical thinking.
One of the skills every WCA student learns and develops is the capacity for doing good academic research. The senior thesis, as the culminating projecting of their education, provides an opportunity for students to use and hone their ability to research well. To that end, every year the senior class spends a day at the Albin O. Kuhn Library at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. They learn how to search a university database and sift between popular and scholarly sources. They are taught how to navigate the labyrinth of floors and shelves that is a university library. Each student comes away from the trip with a substantial set of quality resources that will help them understand their thesis topic more deeply and argue their case more convincingly. More importantly, each senior also takes with them knowledge and experience that will help them succeed in whatever schools or jobs they go on to.
Toward the end of their Senior year, each student participates in an internship (typically two weeks or so) at a location that relates to their thesis topic. The intent of the internship is to provide an opportunity for the student to test their thesis in a real-world scenario. The final event in this process is to present their paper to a faculty panel and consider their position in light of what they have learned at the internship.
Not only does this prepare students for college research and writing projects, several students have seen this thesis/internship lead to summer work, paid internships, and eventually to college degree programs and future careers. Listed below are some examples of thesis topics and corresponding internships of our students.
|Sustainable Architecture||Perkins + Will|
|Cyber Surveillance||Edwards Performance Solutions|
|Charter Schools||Takoma Park Elementary at Montgomery County Public Schools|
|Special Education Inclusion in Schools||Takoma Park Elementary at Montgomery County Public Schools|
|Attention Deficit Disorder||Empowered Learning Transformation Centers|
|Foster Care and Adoption Policy||The National Center For Children and Families|
|Technology Addiction||National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Montgomery County|
Here's a comment from the supervisor of two WCA students participating in an internship:
"These are 2 very impressive young men. In addition to myself, they really impressed our CEO and our Founder. A couple of people asked me after interacting with them if they were college interns. After learning they were high school seniors they were floored! I have no doubt that both of these guys will go on to do great things and make your school proud!"