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Senior Thesis Presentations

 

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. 

Watch The Final Fourum

 
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.


Monday, April 26, 2021  |  Auditorium

In his thesis, Jared explains the complex situation that college athletes face as they find themselves working full-time as athletes in addition to full-time student responsibilities, yet are not receiving due compensation. College athletes are denied their rights to use their name, image, and likeness to market themselves and earn money, while university systems reap millions. Jared argues that the NCAA should be required to change their rules to give back these rights to student athletes, on the grounds of the unfair time commitment, risk of injury, and exploitation.

Whitney’s thesis will cover the history of the criminal insanity defense and what needs to change. She will show that most of our current system around mental health and incarceration is outdated and leads to more harm than good. By expanding the current restrictions, the goal of the ALI test is to help people with mental illness rather than ignore or harm them.

In her thesis, Olivia will advocate for lowering the price of insulin through the passing of federal legislation. When passed, these bills will effectively make insulin, and consequently other life-sustaining drugs, more accessible and affordable to patients who depend on them. 

Caitlyn’s thesis, EPR: Why Producers Have to Take Responsibility, discusses why the United States should require producers of packaging and paper products to follow Extended Producer Responsibility laws. She will explain how laws like this will help the environment, increase recycling rates and decrease waste in the United States, and financially benefit both municipalities and producers. She hopes that her thesis will inspire her audience to take steps to care more for the earth they live in.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021  |  Auditorium

In her thesis, Jenna will reveal the United States’ and Texas’ abandonment of foreign languages in the education system. She will then propose the implementation of foreign language learning in Texas elementary schools seeing as though there are many resulting benefits, it fosters empathy in children, and it is most effective in early youth. 

Did you know that there are over 50 billion internet-connected devices? Did you also know that a quarter of these devices have ‘123456’ as their current password? In his thesis, Nathan argues for incentivizing higher security standards in Internet of Things devices, including automatic updates, randomized passwords, and lightweight encryption.

Lily’s thesis, The End of an ERO-r, advocates for the replacement of the enforcing arm of our immigration system. She will explain the many problems that have arisen since its inception and show that the only option left is replacement. She hopes to show her audience that “Abolish ICE” is neither an irrational slogan nor a scary idea but a legitimate solution to a dire problem.

In her thesis, Skye will propose three actions to improve The United State’s Immigration Asylum Process. She believes that the Asylum Process needs to better protect due process, to update the criteria to gain refugee status, and to increase its funding. Skye chose this topic because of some time she spent volunteering in one of her favorite places, her birth town, and a border city (El Paso) serving asylum seekers coming from detention centers. It was a very impactful experience that inspired her passion for asylum seekers. She hopes to incorporate her research and knowledge into her life in the future to educate others about this often overlooked topic and maybe even be a small part of improving it.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021  |  Auditorium

In her thesis, Code Blue: Killing off Fee-for-Service, Peyton will be arguing that the fee-for-service healthcare payment model should be phased out and replaced with value-based care in all hospitals and clinics. 

In her thesis, Ryleigh will be arguing on behalf of released felons who seek employment, but have found themselves barred from working. She states that employers should be provided with more incentives to hire felons, and goes into detail as to why. 

In Sarah’s thesis, she will argue for Texas to pass House Bill 4013, which implements a 10% retail tax on all vape products. Her reasons for passing this bill are that vapes are unhealthy, it will increase state revenue and save Americans money, and that taxes are a successful method for reducing consumption. Sarah hopes to discourage the use of e-cigarettes, especially among teens, through House Bill 4013.


Thursday, April 29, 2021  |  Auditorium

In her thesis, Hidden Foster Care’s Day at Court, Brookie will argue that in order to better protect foster children, all CPS cases involving child removal need to go to court. 

In his thesis, Make Room For Mushrooms, Eli will be arguing for the reclassification of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, to allow for its medicinal use.

In his Thesis, Jacob intends to discuss the growing divide between the expectation of excellence thrown onto Police Officers and their level of preparation by their departments. He will explain how officers are in desperate need of more training, and what benefits more training would bring to the society as a whole. 


Friday, April 30  |  Auditorium  (Final Fourum)

Four presenters have advanced to the Final Fourum and have the opportunity to compete for the Senior Thesis laureate and a scholarship from the Reid Collins & Tsai LLP team of trial attorneys. 

In her thesis, Olivia will advocate for lowering the price of insulin through the passing of federal legislation. When passed, these bills will effectively make insulin, and consequently other life-sustaining drugs, more accessible and affordable to patients who depend on them. 

Lily’s thesis, The End of an ERO-r, advocates for the replacement of the enforcing arm of our immigration system. She will explain the many problems that have arisen since its inception and show that the only option left is replacement. She hopes to show her audience that “Abolish ICE” is neither an irrational slogan nor a scary idea but a legitimate solution to a dire problem.

In Sarah’s thesis, she will argue for Texas to pass House Bill 4013, which implements a 10% retail tax on all vape products. Her reasons for passing this bill are that vapes are unhealthy, it will increase state revenue and save Americans money, and that taxes are a successful method for reducing consumption. Sarah hopes to discourage the use of e-cigarettes, especially among teens, through House Bill 4013.

In his Thesis, Jacob intends to discuss the growing divide between the expectation of excellence thrown onto Police Officers and their level of preparation by their departments. He will explain how officers are in desperate need of more training, and what benefits more training would bring to the society as a whole. 

 


 

"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