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Academics & Arts
Upper School (Grades 9-12)

The Capstone Scholars Program

Laurel’s Capstone Scholars Program provides enterprising and motivated students the opportunity to engage in personally meaningful work that tackles real-world challenges and creates real-world solutions.
Capstone is a dynamic feature of the Laurel curriculum, involving the trial and error, adaptation, analysis, and production found in the professional world. The Capstone process cultivates curiosity, purpose, innovation, and leadership by giving scholars the time and resources they need to engage in active learning. Topics span the disciplines, including civic engagement, entrepreneurship, global studies, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and the arts. Many projects are multi-disciplinary.

During a two-year process, Capstone Scholars develop skills and outlooks that set them up for success in college and beyond, with a marked focus on intensive research, original scholarship, collaboration, internships, and relevant off-campus activities. Using expert guidance from teachers, local and national mentors, and support from peers, each Scholar pursues a Research Focus based on their individual interests. In cultivating a sense of purpose, meaningful relationships and leadership skills, Capstone prepares each scholar to fulfill their promise and to better the world.


Capstone Scholar: a participant in Capstone Capstone Mentor: an adult with expertise in the topic of a student’s Research Focus who helps guide her process Research Focus: a research-based paper or equivalent project designed by each Scholar with guidance from her Mentor

Capstone Requirements Timeline

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  • Ninth Grade

    • March of Ninth Grade: Complete the Capstone application.
    • April of Ninth Grade: Interviews
    • May of Ninth Grade: Announcement of new class of Capstone Scholars; preparatory group activities focus on innovation, flexible mindset, and concept generation.
  • Tenth Grade

    • First and Second Semester of Tenth Grade: Scholars enrolled in Capstone Honors I, a full-credit course, and begin the work of creating a self-driven academic path that is personalized, relevant, and authentic. Capstone projects start with meaningful questions inspired by the Scholar’s genuine interest. The year is spent on the background work necessary for the creation of research questions that are original and worthy of exploration. The formulation of thought-provoking, authentic answers to such questions requires advanced skill as a researcher, writer, critical thinker, public speaker, team member, and time manager.
    • December of Tenth Grade: Students may exit or enter the program depending on what is best for individual students.
    • Spring of Tenth Grade: Refine research focus; Capstone Mentors assigned.
    • Summer of Tenth Grade: Candidates begin background research on their topic of choice, and may complete a relevant Protégé internship.
  • Eleventh Grade

    • Eleventh Grade Year: Scholars enrolled in Capstone Honors II, a full-credit course. The course provides the time and flexibility for students to engage in the development and execution of their project, including any fieldwork with organizations and individuals outside the Laurel community.
    • Spring of Eleventh Grade: Each Scholar submits a full draft of their work and makes an oral defense to the Capstone committee.
    • Capstone Showcase: Scholars present their project to the Laurel community.
  • Twelfth Grade

    No Capstone requirements, but a Scholar may continue their work in an Independent Study. In this instance, Scholars share their work with larger audiences in the Cleveland community and beyond.

Capstone Leadership

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