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Senior Thesis Presentations: Class of 2022

 

Culminating many years of rigorous academic effort and accomplishment, Veritas Academy Seniors face their final hurdle in the Senior Thesis capstone event in which each student presents a 20-minute memorized oral presentation on a topic they have researched for the entire year, followed by a 20-minute defense before a panel of judges. 

 
RHETORIC COURSE

All students who will complete a thesis will enroll in Rhetoric. This course meets twice weekly for an hour. There are daily speaking exercises to refine the students’ public speaking presence. Additionally, students are taught effective research methods and how to craft winsome arguments for their speeches.

ADVISORS

Each student will be assigned an advisor. The advisors are volunteers whose goal is to help the student along the way. Students are required to meet with their advisors six times throughout the course of the year, but they should feel free to meet more frequently if desired.

GRADERS

Each student will be assigned a grader. The grader will assess each checkpoint and ensure that adequate progress is being made. There will be three main drafts that will receive a full mark-up by the grader.

 
OVERVIEW

The final draft of the research paper is due at an assigned date around the end of March or beginning of April. At this point, some students will be selected (Note: students will be graded using the Senior Thesis rubric; any who submit a passing paper at this deadline will be “selected”) and invited to participate in the Senior Thesis Competition. Students who are not selected for the competition or decline the invitation will present either in the evening the following week or during the day throughout the month of May. The students are then seeded by their grade in the course, and the nightly schedules are based off of that seeding. Details of all three tracks are as follows:

TRACK I: ADVANCED SENIOR THESIS COMPETITION (TOP 16)

The students who accept the invitation will present on a public stage the last week of April. Their speeches must be memorized and their panelists will include one or more experts in their fields of study. The winners from each night will present again in the Final Fourum at the end of the week. Each nightly winner will receive a small scholarship to be credited to his/her college bookstore, and the Final Fourum winner will receive an additional $2,000 scholarship that has historically been sponsored by the Reid, Collins & Tsai team of trial attorneys in Austin.

Students who successfully present in the April competition will receive credit on their transcripts for “Advanced Senior Thesis,” and their GPA will be weighted as an advanced course. These students will also be eligible for the Distinguished Diploma if they meet all the other criteria for this honor.

Judging Criteria – Winners for thesis are selected by a team of four (the Final Fourum quorum) that deliberate late into the night each night of the competition (discussions usually last for three or more hours). Presentation quality is definitely a factor in determining who wins, but it is not the factor, as the thesis is a yearlong project requiring deep research, quality writing, and the thoughtful crafting of the message to be delivered. The four members of the panel consider the five canons of rhetoric, the Q&A session, and other factors. They are outlined below:

INVENTION - The crafting of argument: Has the student used all means available to him/her to craft his/her arguments? Are the arguments sound and convincing? How is the logic? Are the arguments supported by a wealth of evidence? Are they well wrought?

ARRANGEMENT - The ordering of the speech: Is the argument easy to follow? Is the proposition clearly stated? How are the transitions? Did the listener ever feel lost? Was each section clearly separated from the others? Was there a piece of evidence or an argument that was in the incorrect place or would have worked better elsewhere?

STYLE - The, well, style of the speech: Are there memorable phrases? Was the speech fun and easy to listen to? Did the speech ever become boring or burdensome? Was the student winsome? Were the sentences carefully crafted? Did the student use any notable tropes orschemesin crafting his/her words? Was it repetitive? Was it, in a word, sonorous?

MEMORY - This one is pretty self-explanatory: Did the student have ready, fluid recall of his/her speech? Did s/he ever have to check his/her notes (this doesn't hurt the grade, it's just for comparison)? Were the student’s "hiccups" large or small?

DELIVERY - The quality of performance: How were the gestures? How was the cadence? Was the delivery wooden? Did the audience feel nervous for the student, or put at ease? Did the student seem natural and at home on stage? Did s/he make eye contact with the audience? How was his/her poise?

Q&A PORTION - Did the student answer the questions to the satisfaction of the judges? Did s/he demonstrate deference and humbleness? Did s/he interrupt? Did his/her answers reveal a depth of research, or did it reveal holes in the research? Did the student have ready answers for the most pressing questions (the ones s/he should really know)? Did s/he have knowledge of the source material and pertinent studies? Did the Q&A period reveal any large holes in the student’s reasoning?

"OSES" - These are measured for both the speech and Q&A portion. They are the three modes of appeal:

Ethos - Did the speaker establish him/herself as trustworthy, well read, informed, and morally upright? Did s/he make moral arguments from this already established solid ground?

Pathos - Did the speaker craft his/her arguments in such a way as to tug at the heartstrings of the audience? Did these arguments seem contrived? Did the student stealthily guide (in a moral way, of course) the emotions of the audience?

Logos - Was the student’s speech and Q&A free of fallacy, and was it logically sound?

TRACK II: ADVANCED SENIOR THESIS PRESENTATIONS

Students who wish to earn the advanced senior thesis, but are not in the top 16, will present in the evening during the week prior to the competition.  The expectations and grading are the same as during the competition, but they are not eligible for the scholarship.  Students who successfully present will receive credit on their transcripts for “Advanced Senior Thesis,” and their GPA will be weighted as an advanced course. These students will also be eligible for the Distinguished Diploma if they meet all the other criteria for this honor.

 
TRACK III: MAY SENIOR THESIS PRESENTATIONS

Some students may elect to present during the school day in the month of May. Veritas will not publicize the schedule for these presentations, but students may invite anyone they want to attend. The presentation quality should be excellent, but the speech does not have to be memorized. The panel of judges will consist primarily—or perhaps entirely—of members of the Veritas faculty, staff and/or board. Students presenting in May will be eligible for the Veritas diploma if they meet all the other criteria for this honor. Their papers and presentations will be assessed using the same rubric applied to the advanced senior theses (sans Memory), however, they will be afforded a 10-point curve. Their transcripts will read “Senior Thesis,” and their GPAs will not be weighted for this class.

TRACK IV: EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH THESIS (XRT)

Students who have a stronger leaning towards STEM related fields may choose to participate in our XRT program. These students spend the year executing their approved research plan, preparing a paper, and presenting their experimental research in a public forum. Throughout the school year, they meet regularly with the Science Department Head or another appropriate member of Veritas staff serving as their Research Advisor. Experimentation must be completed in time to compete in the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival (AERSF) in mid-February and any other science fair competitions that they advance to, including the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Presentation and defense of work will occur at approximately the same time as the other thesis tracks under guidelines established by the Science and Thesis Department Heads.


Final Fourum

For the Final Fourum, the top four speakers from Monday-Thursday’s presentations (one from each evening) will be selected to advance to the final round of the Senior Thesis Competition.

Friday, April 29  |  Auditorium

In her thesis, Educating Our Educators, Elliana will argue that the educational system for our teachers should be updated to match the more inclusive nature of public school education. In order for teachers to be more effective, they will need to be trained on inclusive classroom practices before they begin teaching.

In her thesis, TRANSforming Sports: The Cost of Inclusion, Samantha will be arguing that the interpretation of the term “sex” should not allow athletes to compete outside of their biological sex.

In his thesis, Depolarizing America: Easy as 1-2-3, Joshua will argue that to enhance America’s political environment, ranked-choice voting needs to be implemented in our elections.

In his thesis, Blake will discuss why the current public education system in Texas needs to be reformed in order to allow more families to have a choice in their child’s education. He will then explain why a school choice voucher program should be implemented to solve this issue, and he will analyze the benefits that this program would have in Texas.

Final Fourum Recordings 

Elliana Krone    Samantha Simpkins    Joshua Marmor    Blake Ellyson

 

Top 16 Advanced Senior Thesis Competition (Week 2)

Following the submission of their final draft research papers, the top 16 students are invited to participate in the Senior Thesis Competition, annually held in April. Beginning on Monday evening, four students will present and defend their research, with the top speaker from each night advancing to the Final Fourum at the end of the week. 

Monday, April 25  |  Auditorium

In her thesis, TRANSforming Sports: The Cost of Inclusion, Samantha will be arguing that the interpretation of the term “sex” should not allow athletes to compete outside of their biological sex.

In his thesis, Kid-napping, Noah will address the issue of sleep deprivation in students and offer a midday nap in schools as a solution.

In his thesis, Daniel will be arguing that as the U.S. addresses the issue of cryptocurrency regulation, they should adopt the Japanese approach to cryptocurrencies.

In her thesis, Some Things Are Worth Dying For, Callie will argue that people in America should choose to have green, environmentally friendly funerals.


Tuesday, April 26  |  Auditorium

In his thesis, Don’t Juul Be Cool, Lucas will argue that in order to protect the next generation’s health, the federal government should ban nicotine from e-cigarettes.

In his thesis, Depolarizing America: Easy as 1-2-3, Joshua will argue that to enhance America’s political environment, ranked-choice voting needs to be implemented in our elections.

Kate is passionate about early financial education to help teens and young adults avoid the pitfalls of poor money management, including student loan debt.

In her thesis, Let Food Be Thy Medicine, Mary Margaret will argue that people with heart disease and high cholesterol should be prescribed a plant-based diet.


Wednesday, April 27  |  Auditorium

In his thesis, Blake will discuss why the current public education system in Texas needs to be reformed in order to allow more families to have a choice in their child’s education. He will then explain why a school choice voucher program should be implemented to solve this issue, and he will analyze the benefits that this program would have in Texas.

In his thesis, Nikoli will explain the current state of corruption within the International Olympic Committee and how having the offices of the United Nations supervise their financial activity could curb future disasters.

In her thesis, Germline is the Hard Line, Kalei will argue that in order to protect humanity, the United Nations needs to ban CRISPR-CAS9 germline editing worldwide.

In her thesis, Amanda will be arguing that increased Medicaid funding dedicated to nursing homes will help amend some of the critical shortcomings that harm the wellness of residents.


Thursday, April 28  |  Auditorium

In her thesis, Educating Our Educators, Elliana will argue that the educational system for our teachers should be updated to match the more inclusive nature of public school education. In order for teachers to be more effective, they will need to be trained on inclusive classroom practices before they begin teaching.

In his thesis, Justin will argue that fish sold in the US should be ethically caught to reduce the damage to marine ecosystems.

In his thesis, Texas Property Taxes, Tyler will argue that Texas should adopt a new tax bill to cap rising property taxes, making them more fair and stable.

In his thesis, McCaden will argue that the ways U.S. cities currently organize land ruin their potential. He will advocate mixed-use zoning to remedy these issues and create a stronger society overall.


Advanced Senior Thesis Presentations (Week 1)

Students who wish to earn the advanced senior thesis, but are not in the top 16, will present in the evening during the week prior to the competition.

Tuesday, April 19  |  Auditorium

In his thesis, Ethan will be arguing why the government should not mass forgive student loan debt and be explaining how it could affect our nation.

 

In his thesis, Dawson will argue for clarified copyright laws to further progress the music industry. He argues that clearer copyright laws will specify the basis for filing copyright infringement, reduce the common appropriation with sampling, and free artists to embrace their creativity and inspiration.

In her thesis, Girl Put Your Records On…A National EMR System, Merritt will be arguing for a national electronic medical record database in order to provide better functionality in our healthcare system.

 

In her thesis, Maggie will argue that cursive should be a requirement throughout all of a child's elementary education because of the benefits cursive has to provide.


Wednesday, April 20  |  Auditorium

In his thesis, Grayson will argue that there needs to be more mental health assistance in schools and the mental health experts already there need to be better utilized.

In his thesis, Truett will argue that we should raise the driving age in the United States, specifically Texas, to eighteen.

In her thesis, Woody Biofuels: Are They Really the Best Option, Brooke will be arguing that the United States should prohibit the use and export of woody biofuels as a renewable source of energy.


Thursday, April 21  |  Auditorium

In his thesis, Keaton will argue for General Practitioners to get more nutritional training in order to aid with the rising obesity epidemic in the U.S.

In her thesis, Leaving Every Student Behind, Zoe will argue that in order to better the U.S education system, acts such as the ESSA must be removed.

In her thesis, Tori will argue that medication-assisted treatment programs are needed in order to slowly stop the opioid epidemic.


Friday, April 22  |  Auditorium

In his thesis, Bryan will advocate for a reallocation of funds in Veteran Affairs’s budget. He argues that properly funding the VA’s medical care will significantly reduce the number of veterans resorting to the streets. He claims that these new funds will allow Veteran Affairs to change its treatment and policies to ensure the health of our veterans.

In her thesis, The BMI is Bunk, Alexis will argue that medical professionals and healthcare providers should not use the BMI as a health metric and should instead institute a more inclusive test for health.

In her thesis, Funding the Transition to Minimize Youth Homelessness, Alyssa will argue that in order to help lower the growing population of homeless youth, the Texas government needs to increase funding by 20% for transitional youth programs by using money already budgeted annually for homelessness.

 


 

"It is absurd to hold that a man should be ashamed of an inability to defend himself with his limbs, but not ashamed of an inability to defend himself with speech and reason; for the use of rational speech is more distinctive of a human being than the use of his limbs."  ~Aristotle