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Senior Thesis Seminar (Capstone)
In an effort to better integrate and provide a unified whole a capstone course as the culmination of a student’s academic high school experience will be required of each student. Completing this course will be both useful to getting into college as well as making the whole education at JPII profoundly meaningful.
The underlying presumption of this course is the thought articulated by John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter, Fides et ratio. This is a philosophy course which will enable students to learn about and engage in philosophical thinking. John Paul argues that each of us is a philosopher by nature. Persons ask why, look to nature, use reason and discern universal principals.
With the conviction that: “The human being can come to a unified and organic vision of knowledge.” (FR 53) and “The segmentation of knowledge, with its splintered approach to truth and consequent fragmentation of meaning, keeps people from coming to an interior unity.” (FR 85) students and faculty will participate in the capstone course.
To integrate the entire curriculum and ensure that seniors graduate with the an excellent secondary school education, provided within the Judeo-Christian heritage of authentic Catholic liberal arts and sciences (a well-rounded education), a year- long capstone senior thesis seminar is offered. The seminar will provide a survey of the history of western thought, taught via the Socratic seminar method, in a philosophical manner. Proceeding in this way addresses both content and pedagogy. This will also help to ensure that the curriculum is “steeped in a Catholic Worldview”, an essential element of Catholic education as articulated by The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools (See Michael Miller and National Standards and Benchmarks-NCEA). Students will read original source materials (masters of orderly thought), engage in sustained rational discourse (dialogue), research and write a 10-15 page college level paper and publicly discuss that paper. Students will choose the field in which they wish to write their paper. They will be assisted in the selection of their paper topic which will be approved by the thesis director and their faculty advisor. Each student will work with their faculty advisor, an expert in the field and research material to complete their research and paper.
Preparation for this course will begin in prior years particularly in junior year by integrating Social Studies and English and coordinating the readings chronologically (US History and American Literature with a 5-10 page paper prerequisite). The choice of field will be established by the end of the Junior year.