By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury High School English Department Director Liza Trombley recently shared this year’s class of 2021 Capstone Exhibition presentations with school officials. The projects covered were examples of significant individual achievements by students.
Understanding the capstone exhibition
The capstone projects are a yearlong independent project-based learning experience beginning in the second semester of a student’s junior year and culminating at the end of the first semester of senior year.
Students learn to think critically, solve challenging problems, set goals, become media literate and self-sufficient while developing oral and written communication skills.
Pandemic makes impact on exhibition
Difficult under normal circumstances, the capstone process got complicated during COVID-19, this year.
“They did it truly very independently…,” Trombley said of students. “But because of the effects of the pandemic, some kids were very gung-ho to keep going and meet and some kids were struggling.”
She said that she was only able to meet with capstone students in-person once before schools closed. But she then kept in touch via Zoom over later weeks and months.
Because of the pandemic, the students did not get to showcase their projects in a typical Senior Exhibition event. So, they created brochures with QR codes that directly linked to presentation videos and websites.
Capstones discuss diverse experiences and challenges
In a year full of stress, student Whitney Acquah’s project, “Stressed Out of My Mind” was on point. In the end, she told the Community Advocate that she learned to take it “one step at a time” this year.
“Although my project was about stress and taming the stress in our lives, I felt nothing but stress and worry during this time,” she remarked. “As I went through this [Capstone], my family kept offering their help, but I kept rejecting them thinking that I needed to do this on my own …”
Acquah learned it was okay to ask for and accept help.
“The Beautiful Ones” by Shalini Ambady, meanwhile, delved into the evolution of body image.
Chaitya Bommu’s “Go Green” was a study of sustainability and the implementations of sustainability in the travel industry.
“At times, completing the project felt more like an overload rather than something done with interest. But the fact that I was able to research a topic of my own liking and share the knowledge with others kept me going,” Bommu reflected.
Jenna Oliveri created a final product called “Beanz Fashion.”
“This project was a huge stepping stone into my career as I will be taking off to college in just six months and will continue my journey majoring in fashion at Marist college.”
Megan Remington incorporated furniture into her design. That’s something she’s excited about.
“Ideas for furniture pieces have always been in my mind,” Remington said. “My project focused on taking discarded objects and upcycling them into beautiful furniture…”
Remington admitted that there was a point when she thought about dropping out of Capstone. Now, she is proud to have overcome her challenges and stuck with it because the result was two “beautiful projects.”
Outside of those aforementioned projects, Sreya Gopaladasu pursued “NRI Stem for Girls.”
Emily Lac tackled “Dermatology and Teen Acne.”
Conall Mannion shared how to naturally dye clothes at home.
Shivangi Sirsiwal’s project was a research based mental health service for adolescents called “Project Hestia.”
Kaitlyn Snell’s work was titled “Connecting the Dots.”
And Huiying (Christina) Xu extolled the virtues of “The Power of Blogging.”
Reflecting on all this, Trombley said that the best part was the fact that students acquired competencies in a myriad of skills while exploring their passions. Students remained in charge of their own learning.