Projects & Capstones

Ma ka hana ka ‘ike. (By doing, one learns.)

Across our K-12 classes, we incorporate independent projects that let you make learning more active, visible, and fun. Through these projects, HPA prepares you to become a self-driven learner who can conceive, manage, problem-solve, adapt, and communicate your ideas effectively to the public. Along the way, each classroom project builds creative- and critical-thinking skills so that your confidence grows along with your achievements. Throughout the process, your teacher supports and advises you as an expert guide.

The capstone experience

Over time, these smaller projects prepare you for three major milestones: an independent “capstone” project that is required in grades five, eight, and twelve. The capstone experience serves as a culminating academic and intellectual milestone in each grade, where students direct their personal passions and interests toward real issues in the community or larger world. Through the capstone experience, you will strengthen your skills even further and produce a tangible product that demonstrates your learning. Your product might be a dance performance, chemistry experiment, YA novel, community service project, or solar-powered robot—you get to decide.

Lower School

The fifth-grade capstone experience focuses on honey bees and pollination. Students begin with immersion into concepts around the form, function, and human impact of Apis mellifera (honey bees) and their role in the reproductive system of angiosperms (flowering plants). Students are introduced to the project phases and core concepts that will also be used in Middle and Upper School, including project proposals, research, incorporating feedback, and public presentation. All along the way, students receive close, supportive mentoring as they grow toward this fun and important milestone.

Middle School

In grade eight, you’ll choose from among thought-provoking capstone classes designed by our Middle School teachers. Every year, these classes engage with important issues, from ocean science and advocacy to social service through the arts. Over the course of the year, you will pitch your capstone proposal to a team of advisors and peers; conduct research and report on results and challenges; experiment with and refine your ideas; and finally take part in our school-wide showcase of capstone creativity.

Upper School

By the time you reach senior year at the Upper School, your capstone experience will represent the culmination of your learning at HPA. You will demonstrate a larger degree of independence and sustained inquiry; you will engage more deeply with mentors or the community in seeking feedback. Above all, the capstone experience allows you to put your learning into action around a question, idea, or social need that excites you. It provides a way to enact real-world problem-solving before you are out of high school.

For many HPA seniors, the twelfth-grade capstone project points the way toward what they hope to accomplish in college. For others, it’s an exciting period of exploration as they uncover new talents and possibilities. What will you do with your HPA capstone?

A capstone can be anything you want to make it. You can go in so many directions. It’s a really great opportunity to learn more about yourself and gain tons of skill in multiple areas.”

—Jordan, eighth-grader

Projects & Capstones at HPA

Capstone Courses

Want to write a novel? Crack a malware code? Check out this year’s capstone courses for the Upper School.

Roxy McMackin ’23 produced this documentary for her 8th grade capstone experience. Enjoy!