A Grand Finale for the Academic Concentrations

From Director of STEM Education Kristine Varney

This year the Academic Concentration program graduated ten students, the largest class since the program began in 2018. Topics of study among these seniors varied widely, from Global Studies student Shuhan L.’s exploration of non-profit organizations through her work with the Operation Smile program to Gracie S.’s STEM research about the history of humans as an outdoor and indoor species, which culminated in some self-experimentation with living exclusively indoors and then outdoors for several days last summer. Global Studies student Dami O. merged several areas of interest as she looked at the effects of history, identity, and culture on modern-day U.S.-China relations.
Not all projects involved research, as was the case with Performing Arts Concentration student Julia G.’s work with the theater productions this year and Teagan S.’s ceramics One-Woman Show for her Visual Arts Concentration. Emma N.’s Global Studies Concentration combined her interests in art and religion as she explored representations of different religions around the world through the medium of photography. Whatever the area, students tapped into personal interests and dug deep to challenge themselves.

As in past years, students presented their culminating projects in March to a small committee of faculty members, selected for their expertise in the student’s topic area. A new addition this year was a Concentration finale event, where students presented a version of their project to a broader audience. Students and faculty were invited to a talk given by each senior, followed by a question and answer session. These talks were also broadcast via Zoom for families and off-campus students. In addition, students received special recognition at Commencement on Friday, as Concentration designations were shared when their names were called to receive their diplomas.

Concentrations can have profound impacts on the students involved. Chloe M., who studied the healing properties of honey for her final project in Animal Science, says, “The Concentration program gave me access to incredible internships and amazing educational opportunities on and off-campus.” Hayden E. was able to tap into her personal passion for sustainable fashion in her Global Studies project on the negative impacts of the fashion industry.

Concentration students are committed to passing on their work and making sure younger students see the benefits of a Concentration. Betsy A. completed her STEM project using the programming language Python to analyze trends in green stock prices. She says, “I think students should apply to the Concentration program to learn more about what they are interested in and learn more about themselves as a student.” She cites the self-discipline she learned as she was teaching herself to program, eventually learning four different programming languages, which she will later apply in her studies in college.

Serving as a mentor for the Concentration program can impact the faculty members who work with students as well. Dean of Students Stephanie Young ’00, a Global Studies mentor, worked with Bianca M. this year, helping her navigate her research project on language oppression and revitalization in Hawaii and Ireland. Ms. Young says, “The Concentration program gives students the skills to be independent learners and the confidence to take control of their own learning. I've seen them grow in their own intellectual curiosity and academic independence.”

This growth was evident as the students presented their work at the finale. Congratulations are in order for all of this year’s students and mentors!
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An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.