The Senior Thesis project is the capstone of a Caldwell Academy education. A requirement for graduation from Caldwell, the thesis represents the culmination and application of all the skills students have learned during their time in the Rhetoric School. All five canons of Rhetoric are involved as seniors generate, arrange, and express their ideas, commit their outline points and comments to memory, and present them before a panel of judges. This is a challenging but rewarding task, and the end result is often spectacular!
Each student begins by selecting a controversial research topic, then developing arguments for and against it before deciding which position to defend. A rigorous and tightly scheduled program of research and multiple drafts ensures that the ideas are honed to a razor’s edge and that the writing is effective and engaging. The result is a well produced fifteen- to twenty-page paper, a significant accomplishment. After the final paper is turned in, work begins on presentation as students prepare to successfully defend their thesis before a panel of faculty, parent, and professional judges. Each presenter is given fourteen to eighteen minutes to present background on the chosen topic, make arguments in favor of the thesis statement, and address the opposition’s arguments against it. Students dress professionally, arrive early, and speak confidently in an academic setting, maintaining their composure as they field spontaneous questions.
Senior thesis can be a daunting project as it requires skill, discipline, and the bringing together of all the skills acquired over thirteen years of school, but the pride and sense of accomplishment that our students feel when they step down from the podium after answering their last panel question is something they never forget. In fact, they soon recognize the benefits of this process as they graduate to the university classroom, a job setting, or wherever they may have the opportunity to lead by defending what they have learned to be true.
Please click the link below to view a Senior Thesis presentation.