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Senior Thesis Presentations

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.

The top 16 students in the Class of 2019 will present in the Senior Thesis competition to be held Monday-Thursday, April 15-18, with the Final Fourum following Easter Break on Tuesday, April 23. This will be followed by the remaining advanced senior thesis presentations to be held Wednesday-Friday, April 24-26. 

As soon as the detailed schedule of presentations is finalized, it will be located below.

 
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 after 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.


Monday, April 15  |  Auditorium (Top 16)

In her thesis, Scared of Labor? Laugh it Off!, Kendall Wheelock will argue for a policy and culture change within American obstetric wards to provide nitrous oxide as a first tier pain relief method prior to more invasive treatments. She will establish that nitrous oxide is a safe, economical, and effective pain relief option for women in labor and that it should be adopted in the U.S.

In his thesis, Hands off my DNA!, William Belcher will argue against the passage of House Resolution 1313, a bill that makes it easier for companies to obtain their employees' genetic information, opening up the threatening possibility for genetic discrimination. After addressing the dangerous ramifications of the bill, William will conclude that we as Americans must oppose it.

In her thesis, Giving Divorce a Remodel by Requiring Prenuptial Agreements,  Darby Daniel will argue for the United States to require all couples to submit a dual section prenuptial agreement before obtaining a marriage license. She will explain that the construction of the proposed prenup may decrease the divorce rate and remodel divorces by making the divorce processes shorter and less messy. Darby hopes that her thesis will reveal the unspoken financial and emotional horrors of divorce, inspiring the audience to take action.

In her thesis, Supervised Injection Facilities: Turning the Tide in the War on DrugsEllie Yellitz will argue why supervised injection facilities are needed in the United States. She will address the increasing number of overdose fatalities and explain how supervised injection facilities solve this issue while also serving the community and bringing drug addicts into treatment. Recognizing the moral dilemma that drug use in the facilities presents, Ellie proposes supervised injection facilities as a stop-gap solution to halt the overdose death rates.


Tuesday, April 16  |  Auditorium (Top 16)

In his thesis, Casualties of No-Kill Animal Shelters, Zeke Pickering will argue for the discontinuance of Austin’s no-kill policy. He will prove that such a philosophy, however well-intentioned, is unconducive to animal well-being, can be dangerous for humans, and is financially detrimental to the community

In her thesis, Relief for the Reef: Saving Coral Reefs by Fixing our Fishing Industry, Zoe Clark will describe both the value and the current condition of coral reefs. She will then point out how adverse fishing practices are directly killing coral reefs and will argue for stricter regulations on our fishing industry by banning destructive fishing methods and by implementing a national catch shares program. She hopes her thesis both raises awareness for reef conservation and presents a first step towards saving these ecosystems from extinction.

Body cameras have been around in the police force since 2012 when the Rialto Police Department, in a small town in California, started implementing them. They have been adopted by more police forces since then, spurred by some major incidents. Still, only about 1/3 of police forces are using them today.

In his thesis, Body Cameras for All OfficersIan Riley will argue that body cameras should be mandatory for every police department nationwide, providing more protection to citizens and officers and saving money.

In his thesis, United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins, Alric Okpisz will argue that law enforcement agencies should not receive funds from civil forfeiture, a process by which law enforcement can take property without an arrest. Alric will address the flaws of civil forfeiture and how they lead to its abuse. Alric will show that the civil forfeiture program is an inadequate system and needs to be reformed.


Wednesday, April 17  |  Auditorium (Top 16)

In her thesis, The ABC’s of BAC, Jessica Findley will argue that the current national Blood Alcohol Concentration limit is not sufficient. She will highlight the need for the limit to be lowered from .08% to .05% in order that American roads may be made safer. Jessica hopes that her thesis will inspire drivers to become aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, and address that responsibly in their own lives.

In his thesis, Eminent Domain: Redefining the "Just" in Just Compensation, Caleb Williams will argue why just compensation must be redefined when eminent domain is exercised for private development. He will argue that just compensation should consider other factors in addition to fair market value to be truly just.

In her thesis, Conservation Easements: An Ease-y Way to Keep Our World Green, Jaci Findley will argue that the United States government must offer a tax credit for those who donate their land as conservation easements. She will show the logical path to understanding the value of conservation easements in a country where land is too often desired only for its monetary value.

In his thesis, Turn over a new leaf: Increasing CPS Caseworkers to Reduce Caseloads and Turnover Rates, J.D. Carter will argue that the number of Child Protective Service caseworkers should be increased. Plagued with high caseloads and turnover rates, CPS employees struggle to adequately provide for children in the Texas foster care system. With increased caseworkers, countless children across Texas would better receive the care that they deserve as CPS caseloads and turnover rates decrease.


Thursday, April 18  |  Auditorium (Top 16)

In his thesis, Slow Down: Disavowing Medical Speed, Luke Bennett will be addressing the need to move amphetamine, methamphetamine, and methylphenidate to the list of Section I controlled substances. He will speak to how these substances harm the human body and create addiction, which should not be justified when there are less dangerous alternatives. In order to help protect future generations of Americans, Luke hopes to inform society on the risks of these medications and how large of a problem they have become.

In his thesis, Dodd-Frank: The Great Read-cession, Austin Turner will be leveling arguments against the Dodd-Frank Act, and proposing a solution to some of the problems it has caused. He will show the logistical, monetary, and ethical reasons behind the proposal to replace Dodd-Frank, and he hopes to explain a very complicated issue in a clear and understandable way. He wants his thesis to be a refreshing break from divisive partisan politics, and inspire his audience to vote logically.

In her thesis, Protecting Teens with Sexual Health Services: How Contradicting Laws put Minors in Tough Situations, Summer Apostalo will present an argument for protecting teens by giving them more access to sexual health services and show how the contradicting laws associated with this topic create problems for teens who are sexually active. She will discuss the downfalls of unplanned pregnancy and the risks for dangerous diseases that can all come from the restrictions on teens access to preventative measures.

In his thesis, Carry A Gun, Carry Your Life: A Case For Concealed Carry, Caleb Harrell will advocate for allowing concealed carriers to carry into gun-free zones. He will bring light to the failure of gun-free zones, and the vital role permit holders play in reducing crime. Caleb hopes his thesis will spark change in the way we approach the second amendment.


Tuesday, April 23  |  Auditorium  (Final Fourum)
Four presenters will advance 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 his thesis, Turn over a new leaf: Increasing CPS Caseworkers to Reduce Caseloads and Turnover RatesJ.D. Carter will argue that the number of Child Protective Service caseworkers should be increased. Plagued with high caseloads and turnover rates, CPS employees struggle to adequately provide for children in the Texas foster care system. With increased caseworkers, countless children across Texas would better receive the care that they deserve as CPS caseloads and turnover rates decrease.

In her thesis, Supervised Injection Facilities: Turning the Tide in the War on DrugsEllie Yellitz will argue why supervised injection facilities are needed in the United States. She will address the increasing number of overdose fatalities and explain how supervised injection facilities solve this issue while also serving the community and bringing drug addicts into treatment. Recognizing the moral dilemma that drug use in the facilities presents, Ellie proposes supervised injection facilities as a stop-gap solution to halt the overdose death rates.

In his thesis, Slow Down: Disavowing Medical Speed, Luke Bennett will be addressing the need to move amphetamine, methamphetamine, and methylphenidate to the list of Section I controlled substances. He will speak to how these substances harm the human body and create addiction, which should not be justified when there are less dangerous alternatives. In order to help protect future generations of Americans, Luke hopes to inform society on the risks of these medications and how large of a problem they have become.

In his thesis, Casualties of No-Kill Animal Shelters, Zeke Pickering will argue for the discontinuance of Austin’s no-kill policy. He will prove that such a philosophy, however well-intentioned, is unconducive to animal well-being, can be dangerous for humans, and is financially detrimental to the community


Thursday, April 25  |  Auditorium

In her thesis, Pre-Workout: The Big Bad Wolf, Joy Santoro will argue that the FDA should evaluate and regulate dietary supplements, specifically, pre-workout supplements. Just because a product is naturally occurring does not mean that it is safe for the average consumer.

In his thesis, A Note on Education, Braden Karley, will argue that Veritas must require music education throughout middle school, while also offering those classes to high school students. The quality of education at Veritas is already high, but there will always be room for improvement. With the benefits and advantages of proficiency in music, future students will receive a more well-rounded education that will further their training to love what is good, true, and beautiful, culminating in a virtuous life.