Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Capstone

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project,
All your thoughts break their bonds.
Your mind transcends limitations,
Your consciousness expands in every direction,
And you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world.
Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive,
And you discover yourself to be a greater person by far
Than you ever dreamed yourself to be!~~Patanjali



 We gather in my kitchen on an unexpectedly cold, after-school, April afternoon. I have purchased over 200 eggs, eight bottles of Nutella, nine cans of whipping cream. We will multiply the crepe recipe by ten.

 I am joined by two students who will help make crepes into the night or until we're worn out, or until we reach at least 200 crepes.

Their company is delightful, but most of all the effort, the purpose of our effort is what brings delight.

Our high school seniors are required to complete a capstone project, a community service endeavor. We introduce the requirement at the end of their junior year and they have the summer and eight months of their senior year to complete the project.

Why then, do half of students still not know what to do until the fourth and final term?

Because they're kids. School is a place to learn, not a place to already have life, decision-making and organizational skills down to a tee. So in the April panic, we help the students choose a project. At this point administration is shaking their heads and there's a panic to fix, even drop the capstone conundrum. But...it somehow always turns out, because this is how we learn, and some learn in the eleventh hour. Many learn the eleventh hour isn't the best time for execution--this is important.

As I listened to students make presentations, show photos, express feelings and pride, I was inspired.

If not for this capstone, how would I have known that Carter helped set up and take down the Moving Vietnam Memorial? How would I have known that he used the leftover lumber to build a small house for a US war veteran? How would I have known that Braydon started quilting with senior citizens? Started playing games with seniors on Saturday afternoon? Or would he have ever done it if not for the capstone? How would I have applauded Emma for holding after school yoga class every Friday and even when most often, no one came? How would I have known Max and Christian studied the effects of poverty and hunger when they held a canned food drive? How else could they have learned to encourage people to donate? How else would Kaitlyn and Shaun have learned how important blood donation is without running their own Red Cross sponsored blood drive? I am moved when I learn Sarah has been teaching special needs children how to swim since she was 14 years old.

And the young women who gathered at my home to make crepes? The next morning we sold 250 crepes in one half hour--proceeds designated for a refugee camp on the island of Lesvos Greece.

Keep the capstone! How else will we learn? How else will we learn about each other?