My Senior Capstone

For my last article, I will be not be reporting on my peer’s senior capstone experiences, but rather reflecting on my own. For my senior capstone project, I did a compilation of eight articles throughout the school year: six articles promoting students from all three high school’s capstones, one introduction article, and one conclusion, which is this one you are reading right now. Although tedious, this project was very gratifying. It made me realize a lot about myself as a person and as a reporter. I realized that I am lazy, very lazy. I am a procrastinator. This is definitely something that I will need to work on as I enter into my aspired field of study; deadlines are extremely important. I also realized that interviewing and reporting is not my favorite thing to do. Between writing these articles, and writing as a contributor to the school’s magazine, The Wildcat, I discovered that reporting is not my actual treasured occupation. I would rather be a freelance writer. Writing editorials, satires, or even blogs, rather than just regurgitating information.

Although this capstone was not as enjoyable as I hoped it to be, it was more beneficial than what I could imagine. It helped me narrow down career options and allowed me to discover what techniques and characteristics I find favorable over others. It also served as another way to display my writing style and work with those more knowledgeable than me on the topic of reporting and publishing.

But out of everything, there is one reason I still cherish writing as something I want to continue on in college, and that is the fact that you learn so much when doing it. Each article I wrote, I not only realized things about myself, but I was also able to see amazing things as they happened, and learn about them as well. I learned about the overlooked logistics behind filming a movie, the beautiful culture of Costa Rica, the inspiration behind being an artist, the personal transition of becoming a leader, the abundant benefits of yoga, and the concentration and determination it takes to construct a computer program of artificial intelligence. I would have never even been slightly educated on any of these topics if it was not for my passion of writing and the choice of my senior capstone experience.



Ernie Parke’s Senior Capstone

Ernie Parke is a senior attending Hilliard Darby High School who finds immense interest in artificial intelligence, referred to as AI. An AI is a computer system that learns how to do a task that would normally require human intelligence. Examples of these tasks can vary from learning how to drive a car, to playing chess, or even holding a conversation. For his senior capstone experience, Ernie attempted to see if he could train an AI to play a simple platformer game.

Ernie’s interest in AIs sparked when he stumbled across an uncomplicated tutorial on how to create an AI. After pursuing this topic, Ernie then came across a video of an AI learning to play Mario Kart in 24 hours. In the video description, there was a link to an MIT research paper on how to make the AI that they titled “NEAT AI”. This stimulated the inspiration behind Ernie’s capstone to replicate the NEAT AI and program it to play the video game.

Ernie worked for about three months when creating the NEAT AI by following the general outline the MIT paper provided and using prior knowledge of computer technology. Despite informational challenges, he completed his task and taught his self-made AI to engage in a platformer game. Ernie states that, “building my senior capstone taught me several things. It showed to me that I have the skills and ability to make complex computer programs, like this NEAT AI.”

Not only was creating this complex, intelligent, and evolving computer program highly enjoyable for Ernie, but he also used it as inspiration to take his knowledge on the topic a step further and become involved with several other projects after completing his senior capstone. He adds, “The possibilities are really amazing, and being able to Scratch the surface, is awe amazing in of itself. By knowing something about AI, hopefully I’ll be able to apply it in the future to some important challenge.


David Gaydos’s Senior Capstone

David Gaydos is a senior at Hilliard Bradley High School, and attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards held at Ohio University this past summer for his senior capstone. Participants in this conference were handpicked by high school administrators based on their character, service, and leadership potential and were then sponsored by their local Rotary clubs while attending the camp for free. Here, students were expected to engage in group activities and discussions regarding moral values, social issues, leadership qualities, and service, listen to notable speakers, and interact with peers through social activities and dorm living. “As an introvert, this sounded like the last thing that I would want to be doing,” David explains. But after considering how great of an opportunity RYLA was, and how great of an honor it was to be chosen to attend, he decided to take the risk and step out of his comfort zone.

After utilizing this valuable and inspirational opportunity and participating in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, David has experienced changes in his daily life and in himself. “The biggest effect is my greater feeling of ease when speaking in front of others and when suggesting my ideas to a group,” he states. David also adds, “I tend to take a leadership role in almost every group project, whereas before I might just step aside because I didn’t feel confident enough.” Because of making so many new friends at RYLA, he now feels assured that meeting new people in college will be a smooth experience. The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards gave David the confidence to take on new life roles. Without this senior capstone experience, David may have never been able to make the transition from complacent spectator to an ambitious leader ready for the future.

Daniel Rona’s Senior Capstone

The ambitious entrepreneur of just 18 years old, Daniel Rona, attends Hilliard Davidson High School. Since the spring of 2015, Daniel has been pursuing his dream as an artist: drawing, painting, and designing religiously. This past summer, Daniel was chosen to attend an art program held at the prestigious Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California on full scholarship. Here, Daniel not only took numerous illustration and life drawing classes, but also learned how to create his own style and brand himself as an artist. Daniel took the senior capstone project as an opportunity to continue marketing his name and artwork and connecting with others through online and word of mouth.

Daniel created a Tumblr page titled “I am Daniel Rona”, which holds links to his Twitter account, Instagram account, his blog, numerous pictures of his artwork, and additional ways to contact him. By doing this, Daniel created an organized way to promote himself, share his work, and receive feedback and offers. This is only the start of his future as a self-made painter, illustrator, and soon to be fashion designer. Daniel is now working on his clothing brand, titled SOLE, and will share images and sales on this social media site as well.

Although Daniel is an extremely self-motivated person, this capstone project has allowed him to reflect over the techniques, styles, and experiences he has encountered and learned from and organize it in a creative and highly beneficial way.


Dianne Day’s Senior Capstone

Dianne Day is a student attending Hilliard Darby High School who decided to take an unorthodox yet very graceful and self-beneficial approach when completing her senior capstone experience.  Dianne decided to complete a 30 day yoga challenge.

The senior capstone experience can be used to enhance a student in numerous ways, whether it is through service, through aiding with a future career, through working on good characters or morals, through being advanced in differing school subjects, or even through enjoyment; the experience is what alters the student’s mind and prepares them for future endeavors. Yoga is something that Dianne had always wanted to pursue, and what better time she could have proceeded to practice it than for her senior capstone project.

Every day, starting November 1 and ending November 30, Dianne watched “Yoga with Adriene” on YouTube and engaged in the movements that corresponded with each video. The first few days started out rough, with Dianne’s body being tight and not used to certain stretches and poses, but as the challenge went on, each day became more fulfilling and enjoying for her. As time went on, Dianne began to possess a self-love and understand how strong and durable she actually is and sense the connection she has with the earth around her.

From this experience, Dianne learned to manage her stress and anxiety through the peaceful practice of yoga, regulate her breath and energy through her steady concentration, and tone and shape her body through the discipline and determination she undertook. She discovered qualities about herself that she never knew she possessed and established a love for yoga that she will enjoy over a lifetime. Dianne was even so inspired by her senior capstone experience that she decided to continue her yoga journey and repeat the 30 day challenge for a second time.


Karly Martin’s Senior Capstone

Karly Martin is a senior at Hilliard Bradley High School, who not only used her senior capstone experience for service and adventure, but furthermore used it to discover her aspired occupation.

This past year, Karly participated in the Costa Rica spring break trip, in which students from all three high schools received the opportunity to visit the country. Over a nine day period, Karly worked on a prototype that would help the environment, listened to Jane Goodall discuss her lifestyle and experiences with monkeys, brought school supplies to the underprivileged children in the village of Torteguero, witnessed animals that are not familiar to Ohio, visited a turtle reservation, a chocolate plantation, and an international school, swam in hot springs and a waterfall, white water rafted and zip lined, met students from all over the world, and made friends that would last a lifetime.

The most impactful of these events for Karly was visiting the island of Torteguero. She was able to see how those in impoverished areas truly live. It was “life changing to say the least,” she explains. The houses where the families reside contained not carpet nor wood, but only dirt floors. Furthermore, there were only two rooms alone used to educate over 80 children. When the simplest of school supplies were brought to them, they were ecstatic. From this, Karly learned to not take what she has for granted because many others around the world do not have the same opportunities and options she obtains. Additionally, she realized what she wanted to do with her life: she wants to keep the people like those living in Torteguero healthy; she wants to travel and be a nurse.

Karly would not have been able to discover what profession she wants to pursue if it was not for her visit to the differently cultured country of Costa Rica. She also learned so much about herself as a person and about the world through the daily tasks and experiences she encountered. “I loved Costa Rica,” Karly states, “This experience was one of the best in my life and I wish every day I could do it over again.”


Tony Ashley’s Senior Capstone

As I said I would be in my previous article, I am back with reports regarding one of my fellow peers, aspired filmmaker, Tony Ashley, and how he utilized his senior capstone project.

Tony used this opportunity to produce a short, murder mystery film based on a script he had written about a New York journalist questioning a man’s trial during the 1890’s. To do this, he first assembled nine of the finest filmmakers at Hilliard Davidson High School to discuss, analyze, and execute the logistics behind the production. Together they drafted a schedule, designed a set, created a shot list, assembled costumes, acquired props, and arranged lighting and audio to match their specific needs. Once these various means were finished, the ten students moved onto actually shooting the film, while being the actors in it as well. And with Hilliard Davidson’s PAC always being used for one thing or another, including being the site for this project, these students had only four days to build a period correct set and shoot an approximately seven minute film. Delicious pizza, remarkable dedication, and a shared love for storytelling was what made this film prevail.

Tony grew up constantly creating films; whether it had been with his best friends, or the neighborhood children who had nothing better to do, he always found a way to be behind a rolling camera. He then tried to perfect his art by teaching himself through numerous online courses, and eventually by taking Davidson’s media arts classes. Despite all this prior training and these previous experiences, Tony explained that the senior capstone was “the first time where [he] could sit down with a bunch of creative people, work out something really, truly great, and go through the proper steps and procedures.”

“I remember being on the set,” Tony states, “and looking at one of my crew members, and I was like this is what I need to be doing with my life, and I never would have felt that if it wasn’t for the opportunity of senior capstone.” Tony hopes to use his short film, not only as his senior capstone, but also to submit in film festivals, competitions, and part of his applications to certain universities.