High school seniors are constantly demonstrating their skills, often for scholarships. For our St. Philip seniors, this includes demonstrating their knowledge of the faith.
The Diocese of Kalamazoo Capstone project is a yearlong undertaking, requiring diocesan high school seniors to defend the faith on a subject of their choice. It is a graduation requirement, a diocese-wide competition, and a scholarship opportunity.
“This project sums up not only their education at our schools but especially their faith,” Nicole Krajewski, St. Philip theology teacher, said.
The Capstone journey begins junior year when students pick a topic from an approved list based on the Theology curriculum. With help from teachers and priests, these students research their subject with an eye towards defending the church’s position.
Once the research is complete, students write a thesis paper on their findings, as well as prepare an 8-12 minute presentation on their topic. Students present their Capstones to a panel of school judges for a final grade in March.
Three students move on to the diocese’s Capstone competition held in Kalamazoo in May, presenting alongside finalists from Hackett Catholic Prep and Lake Michigan Catholic High School. The winning presenter receives a $5,000 scholarship, second place receives a $3000 scholarship, and third place receives a $2000 scholarship. All Capstone finalists receive a $500 scholarship.
Representing St. Philip this year are Noah Ellinger, Taylor Pessetti, and Grayson Obey.
Noah focused on human genetic manipulation, a subject he became familiar with during his Math and Science Center studies.
“Genetic manipulation is much more than adding a gene to somebody,” Noah said. “It takes on much more responsibility when you do things like that. [The project] really affirmed my Catholic beliefs and why you don’t do something like that.”
Taylor used the principle of double-effect – a four-step process to determine if something is morally right – to defend the church’s stance on abortion.
“I took a little bit of a science approach, going back to where life is defined as beginning, and I talk about the Catholic Church’s vision,” Taylor said.
Grayson tackled the morality of stem cell research, spotlighting adult stem cells and umbilical cord blood stem cells, which don’t destroy human embryos.
“I believe that it is important for others to be informed and aware of the other types of stem cell research being done and the results that have come from them,” Grayson said.
The Capstone’s true reward isn’t grades or scholarships, but maturity in the faith.
“They are going to have to defend their faith in college or at least live out their faith,” Ms. Krajewski said. “This helps them to know how to find resources to defend their faith [by] helping them learn how to teach themselves.”