In May of 2019, MSB students and staff culminated their year-long Capstone Project on lives and works of American authors, particularly of the Transcsendentalist movement, with a visit to important locations in and near Boston, Massachussets. The 2018-2019 Capstone topic, Author Studies: Lives, Works and Influence, was designed to introduce students to a variety of authors from the early 19th century through the mid-20th century and give students an opportunity to delve into the author’s lives and works with a view of gaining a greater understanding of the impact time, place and current events (now historic events) had on their writings as well as the influence their writing had and continue to have on society. All Capstone participants:

  • Read a minimum of two (2) books/works by the author from the approved list;
  • Researched and wrote a Author’s Portrait highlighting the author’s life, works, influence and the impact history had on his/her writings;
  • Used and accurately sited multiple, high-quality, primary and secondary sources to research the author and his/her work;
  • Completed and presented a polished, cumulative, multi-media presentation using the HoverCam Pilot 3 Digital Podium HCP3 system to introduce their author;
  • Participate in the on-site component where MSB students and staff traveled to Massachusetts where students were immersed in the world of the 19th and 20th century authors they have studied.

 

Authors studied in 2018-2019 included:  Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Author Miller.

 

Research Groups:

 

Henry David Thoreau:

Mia, Malikye, Nicole and Hunter undertook the study of the complex thinker and prolific writer, Henry David Thoreau under the guidance of Ms. Arnold and Mr. Haley.  Their first challenge was reading Thoreau’s Walden, and developing an understanding of Thoreau’s transcendentalist philosophies and how he applied them to his life during his time living on Walden Pond.  The group further read and researched extensively including Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. While on-site we had the opportunity to experience the life Henry David Thoreau loved.  We saw a replica of the home he built for himself and took a hike in the woods where Thoreau wandered; fish where he fished and swim where he swam.  And we can all say, we agree with Thoreau who said:

"We can never have enough of nature.  We must be refreshed by the site of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying tress, the thunder-cloud and the rain." - Henry David Thoreau 

 

Nathaniel Hawthorne:

Zyshaun, Khylie, Rylea and Lexie undertook the study of Nathaniel Hawthorne under the guidance of Ms. Goodsite. The group read The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables, and explored themes of Transcendentalism, conflict, morality and ethics, alienation from society, fate, family, justice and judgement, and religion. While on-site, we toured the House of Seven Gables that served a s the setting of Hawthorne's famous book. We were struck by the great wisdom of Hawthorne that we learned more about throughout this tour, including our favorite quote:

"Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect, whether he chooses to be so or not."-Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

Louisa May Alcott:

Anastasia, Thomas, Kiwan, Ravin and Svetlana undertook the study of author, feminist and abolitionist, Louisa May Alcott under the guidance of Mrs. Popp and Ms. Oestricker.  Students enjoyed exploring Alcott’s classics starting with:  Little Women. While on-site we had the opportunity to tour the Alcott house in Concord and learn more about her fascinating life, friendships with neighbors Emerson and Thoreau as well as her lasting impact on our nation’s thinking.  While exploring her world, we’ve learned so much, we aren’t surprised that Alcott said,

"Education is not confined to books, and the finest characters often graduate from no college, but make experience their master, and life their book." -Louisa May Alcott

 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Noelle, Nathan and Chloe undertook the study of the America’s Poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow under the guidance of Mr. Doyel and Mrs. Cusumano.  Students enjoyed exploring Wadsworth’s classics including:  Paul Revere’s Ride, The Song of Hiawatha, and The Courtship of Miles Standish, just to mention a few.  While on-site we had the opportunity to see visit Paul Revere’s house, and the Old North Church and the famous bell tower where Paul Revere hung his famous lanterns and more.  We spent the day exploring the sites along the Freedom Trail on a cold rainy day, but can’t help but agree with Longfellow who said:

"Lives of great men all remind us.  We can make our lives sublime.  And departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Arthur Miller:

 Jalan, Leigah, Dionna and Neil undertook the study of play-write, Arthur Miller under the guidance of Mr. Mueller, Mr. McKeown and Ms. Hart.  Students studied Miller’s modern interpretation of the Salem Witch trials through The Crucible as well as the time and culture Miller was living in when he wrote his famous play.  While on-site we had the opportunity to visit the Rebecca Nurse Homestead and hear the tragic story of the old, sickly woman accused of witchcraft and eventually hanged.  We visited the Salem Witch museum and learned more about the Hysteria, and the fifteen months between February 1692 and May 1693 when 200 people where accused of witchcraft, 19 were found guilty and executed by hanging; another man was crushed to death for refusing to plead and at least five people died in jail.  Of his play, The Crucible, Arthur Miller said,

"The Crucible became by far my most frequently produced play, both abroad and at home.  Its’ meaning is somewhat different in different places and moments.  I can almost tell what the political situation in a country is when the play is suddenly a hit there it is either a warning of tyranny on the way or a reminder of tyranny just past." - Arthur Miller