Capstone project replaces oration

REGION 16 — The days when students would conclude their time at Long River Middle School with an oration are over. School officials implemented capstone projects this year for eighth-graders.

In the past, eighth-graders at the school, which serves students in grades six through eight from Beacon Falls and Prospect, would have to present an oration. The oration entailed researching a topic and giving a speech on it that students memorized.

“It’s an archaic way of doing things,” Long River Principal Derek Muharem told the Region 16 Board of Education in March. “It’s not a skill that our kids need to have.”

With the capstone project, students can work in groups of no more than four students or individually. Students must identify a “critical problem,” research and analyze data, and develop a possible solution. Students will then present their findings.

Unlike an oration, students have options for their presentations, including creating a short documentary, a public service announcement or a video interview. Each student also has to submit a five- to eight-page argument paper.

Students have three months to work on the capstone project and eighth-graders are currently working on them.

School officials said the capstone project incorporates more 21st century learning skills, like critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration, than the oration.