New Vista's Culminating Projects
Every student must undertake a Culminating Project during the Stage II process in order to graduate. This project must be approved by student's Graduation Committee following the committee's acceptance of the student's Graduation Proposal. After the Graduation Committee has accepted the Culminating Project proposal, the project may only be revised with the approval of the Graduation Committee. Details about this process are described below.
What is a Culminating Project?
The Culminating Project is an opportunity to undertake a major piece of rigorous, original work in an area of great interest and personal relevance to the student. It may involve work directly connected to the student's intended Path. It may involve exploration of Path alternatives. Or it may be a personal passion unconnected to the student's stated path. Culminating Projects are self-motivating experiences that the student is interested in, even passionate about. The student chooses the project, designs it with input from the Graduation Committee, and is solely responsible for its execution. The project is culminating in the sense that it brings together the student's skills and knowledge in carrying out a significant piece of self-directed learning.
When is the Culminating Project done?
A Stage II student may begin work on the project at any time after it has been approved by his/her Graduation Committee. Typically, students are within a year or two of graduation when they transition to Stage II and begin this project.
Where is the Culminating Project done?
As the projects vary, so can the places. Restrictions for off-campus projects are related to credits and legal factors the school is bound by. Students should work with their advisors to ensure that these restrictions do not impede their project. Though most projects have taken place in Boulder, some have occurred in locations around the world. (Note: The costs of travel-related projects, like the costs of any Culminating Project, must be borne by students and their families.) In general, students are encouraged to create inexpensive projects.
How do you get started?
The shape of a Culminating Project evolves through a series of conversations. The first conversations take place between the student and advisor. These lead to an idea that can be put down on paper for the Graduation Committee. This proposal is taken to a committee meeting and is discussed at length. Over the course of one or more meetings the proposal is refined and the various aspects of it clarified. This process of clarification should result in a revised Culminating Project Proposal. This written summary of the committee's deliberations becomes the "contract" for the project and provides the basis for the project's evaluation by the committee.
Examples of Senior Culminating Projects
Acted as lead student system administrator for school computer system
Began a career as a competitive mountain bike racer
Choreographed and performed original dance works
Compiled and produced a magazine documenting graffiti around the country
Constructed a complex computer
Created a display on convergent evolution for the University of Colorado Greenhouse
Created a documentary video on mountain biking
Created a photography series on Colorado's Fourteeners
Created a poetry manuscript
Created a portfolio of 3-D computer art
Created a web site on resources for self-help in legal affairs
Created an animated film
Designed a computer network administration program
Designed a vacation cabin and created its architectural model
Designed and constructed a 3-D model for a state of the art infant care center
Designed and fabricated a youth fashion line
Designed and produced a music CD
Designed packaging for a small business
Developed and taught a class on skateboard construction at New Vista
Did a research project on Southeast Asian Art
Did an apprenticeship in the techniques of Reiki
Educated the public about animal rights
Explored forensic science careers
Explored social work careers and interned at Rape Crisis Center
Explored the world of cyber punk and created an anthology of cyber punk pieces
Explored veterinary careers in Alaska
Filmed and edited a snowboard video
Helped create a video on the inclusion of multiply handicapped students
Improved human relation skills as a computer system administrator
Interned at a school for autistic children
Learned how to build a house from the ground up
Learned to be an assistant in paleontological research
Lived independently and created a handbook for emancipated teens
Mastered outdoor living skills including a solo adventure
Organized activities connected to a Japanese exchange program
Organized, taught and supervised the building of a sailboat
Participated in an archeological dig in Uruguay
Participated in research on subatomic particles at the Fermi lab
Planned and co-led a week long bike trip in Fruita, Colorado
Planned and led 200 mile backpacking trip along Colorado Trail
Prepared for volunteer fire-fighting activities and designed an accountability system for mountain firefighters
Prepared to obtain pilot's license
Produced an original comic book
Produced and starred in the one woman show, "Belle of Amherst"
Pursued advanced study of French language and literature
Redecorated a home with original mural work
Researched and created a museum on Title IX and Women's Athletics
Restored a 1969 Pontiac Firebird
Studied the cultural anthropology of Hawaii
Studied to be a clown, performed in a variety of venues and created a home page on clowning
Taught a class on Greek philosophy at New Vista High School
Taught a course in art history
Taught AP calculus to high school students
Traveled and produced documentary photographs
Traveled to South Africa to attend the International Parliament of Religions
Undertook ecological studies in Tasmania
Undertook field study of Sandhill cranes
Undertook in-depth study and observation of apes
Undertook intensive summer study at the UNC Frontiers of Science Institute
Volunteered at an AIDS hospice
Volunteered for the Emergency Family Assistance Center and organized a school-wide food drive
Volunteered with Sinapu to help restore wolves to Colorado
Worked as a teaching assistant in an elementary school
Worked as an intern at a university science lab studying chimpanzees using American Sign Language
Worked at a camp for disadvantaged youth
Wrote a children's book
Wrote and submitted a novella for publication
Wrote, directed and filmed a narrative video
Wrote, directed and performed an original one woman show
Wrote, directed and produced a Spanish language video on Boulder and New Vista