Collegiate offers Capstone programs
in the final year of each division of the School — 4th Grade, 8th Grade and 12th Grade — to create opportunities and challenges for students that help prepare them for the future.
The theme of this year's Envision Collegiate was How might we improve the sustainability of Collegiate’s campus by 2027? The significance of 2027 is the year the 4th Graders will graduate.
The 4th Graders worked in teams to develop solutions to this question, and the ideas they presented today included giving students an opportunity to take home their Chromebooks to complete homework and, as a result, decrease paper usage; providing students with a durable helmet that could be used for lacrosse, baseball or biking that adjusts as an athlete gets older, to limit waste; creating a robot to take food orders and deliver them to students at their tables to increase efficiency in cafeteria lines; designing golf carts for use by the physical plant staff that run on solar power when it’s sunny, electric power on most days and gas only when it snows; and using windmills, watermills and even hamsters at various locations on Collegiate’s main campus and athletics campus to provide power to the School.
“We thought about solar power, but we wanted to create something new that hasn’t been on campus yet,” one of the 4th Grade facilities team members said.
The students devised their ideas and their prototypes after meeting with “experts” on Collegiate’s campus on a regular basis throughout the school year. At the Capstone kickoff in November, 4th Grade teacher and Envision Collegiate Coordinator Jessica Catoggio introduced the entire grade to individuals from around campus to learn what they do. Over the next few months, students interviewed and worked with members of the Facilities, Athletics, Academics and Communications departments to learn about their respective responsibilities and explore how some aspect of their school duties might be more sustainable.
“Envision Collegiate gives our 4th Graders the opportunity to take a ‘deep dive’ into the inner workings of their own campus, identify opportunities for growth and change in the area of sustainability and present their big ideas to the very people who could benefit from improvements in their work environment,” Mrs. Catoggio said.
As one of the students said during her team presentation today, “We just need to be more creative and think of what we can actually do.”
As a culmination of their Capstone experience, 4th Graders spent this week finalizing the presentations they delivered today. Along with being given dedicated time to collaborate and create their prototypes, the students visited several organizations that offered insight into the impact of embracing sustainability. Their stops included Shalom Farms, Goodwill, Allegra printing and the University of Richmond Communications Office.
“By using the Design Thinking process, the children have the unique opportunity to bring together some of the important skills they have been building throughout their time in the Lower School,” Mrs. Catoggio said. “As they prepare to ‘cross the bridge’ to the Middle School next week, this opportunity builds their knowledge of our campus beyond the Lower School and their confidence beyond the classroom.”
Susan Droke, Collegiate’s Chief Academic Officer, expressed how impressed she was with the 4th Graders’ thought process.
“The students really challenged each other,” she said.