Capstone Challenges Students to Impact Their World

“What world challenge would you like to help solve?” Bridgette
Murray asks a group of Grosse Pointe Academy Grade 8
students. Murray, who is Assistant Head of School, Middle
School Division Head and Middle School Language Arts teacher,
is referring, of course, to the Academy’s Grade 8 Capstone

The Academy Grade 8 Capstone Project provides our students
with a yearlong opportunity to research a challenge of local
or global significance, design a solution to help resolve that
challenge and, ultimately, present their findings to the Academy

Our Grade 8 students are already well underway in their Capstone work. They began with researching their potential topics and identifying sources that can help them. Part of the Capstone experience is “learning how to use critical thinking skills when reviewing sources and researching your topic,” says Murray.

Next, students did their “Guppy Presentations” to their peers. The Guppy Presentation is a two-minute presentation to their fellow classmates and Murray, providing an overview of their proposed Capstone
Project. “The project must be action-orientated,” explains Murray. “This is not about researching a topic. It’s about taking that research and turning it into an action to help solve that challenge.”

As part of the Guppy Presentation, each student explained to their peers the challenge they want to help solve, potential obstacles they have identified and why their Capstone project is a worthwhile investment of their time. Students had the opportunity to give feedback, ask questions and provide guidance to each other as part of that process.

Proposed Capstones this year include subjects such as deforestation, bringing awareness to challenges faced by disabled veterans, mental health and age, the benefits of dance, the financial struggle of illness, poverty, drug abuse, drunk driving, athlete drug use, internet safety awareness and the dangers of vaping.

Over the next several months Grade 8 students will be investing significant time into developing their
projects, culminating with a presentation near the end of the school year.

When Murray introduced the Capstone project to the Academy six years ago, she knew it would be a great fit for the Academy approach to education. “Capstones align with our Cornerstones and values,” says Murray. These skills, “thinking critically, asking questions, thinking about how they can affect the world around them and taking action” combined with “developing skills such as public speaking, research, self-sufficiency and goal setting” are skills that will help prepare them for high school, college, careers and beyond.”