On Thursday night, January 17, the Founders Classical Academy (FCA) of Lewisville cafeteria was full of excitement and nerves as families and community members gathered in reception as students made the final preparations for their long-awaited presentations.
FCA Lewisville seniors are expected to prepare a thesis as part of their capstone project. In this, they are encouraged to address a significant question of the Western tradition: “What does it mean to be human?”, “What is a citizen?”, “What is justice?”, “Who is a hero?”, “What is beautiful?”, and “What is the good life?” Each senior writes, orally delivers, and then defends a 14-16 page thesis on a topic of their choosing that emerges from the school curriculum.
Prior to the start of the school year, incoming seniors were given a list of authors who have books included in the existing school curriculum and were able to choose their subject of choice. Throughout the first semester, students were assigned a faculty advisor to guide their thesis development and give presentation feedback during practice.
The students worked hard in the months leading up to Senior Thesis Night, in and out of the classroom. FCA Lewisville senior Breanne Morris says, “The teachers incorporated this project into multiple subjects so that we could spend more time organizing and developing our arguments.”
“I am very proud of the hard work Breanne, my daughter, has put in. I’m sure she’s a little nervous, but I know she will do great,” Seth Morris goes on to say, “Founders Classical Academy has made such an impact on my family. All four of our children have gone to this school.”
Founders Classical Academy strives to instill the pursuit of knowledge in their students and encourages them to do all work to the best of their ability. According to FCA Lewisville Headmaster Jason Caros, a thesis is more than just your typical research paper. It’s an exercise in deep reading and critical writing with a clear theme and focus. In the written paper, students provide and defend a detailed argument concerning their themes, relying primarily on direct textual evidence from their chosen classic book. The writing standards are at the level of college undergraduates and each part must support their main idea.
Breanne chose to focus on The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, a French Romantic/Gothic novel written by Victor Hugo and published in 1831. The title of her thesis is “Delirium: The Progression of Claude Frollo’s Fall.” While focusing on the questions mentioned above, she unpacked the proof of Frollo’s moral decay and how it affected the main characters.
This year, 63 seniors presented their papers publically and defended their theses before a panel of faculty and in front of a classroom of peers and other attendees. Many attendees commented on how the ideas presented by the students proved that they are wise beyond their years. Hannah Scott presented an explanation of “Love in Sense and Sensibility” and how it relates to The Four Loves, written by C.S. Lewis. Joshua Thomas dove into “Les Miserables: You Make a Life by What You Give” an in-depth look at the power of charity in our everyday life. Esther Kuykendall spoke on “Sin and Shame in The Scarlett Letter” and answered tough questions from the panel regarding the meaning of ‘true beauty’ and the hypocrisy in society’s judgment of the main character.
Caros says, “The senior thesis presentation completes the thesis project and is an opportunity to celebrate our seniors’ education accomplishments in the good, true, and beautiful.”
“The thesis is a reflection of two things we aim to form in students: eloquence and wisdom,” says Caros. “While the students demonstrate deep knowledge of their topics, Senior Thesis Night was a celebration of their scholarly work and academic virtues, including courage and perseverance.”
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