If the Cap Fits: Seniors Discover their Passions through Capstone Projects

If the “Cap” FitsIf the “Cap” Fits is a signature editorial feature aimed to highlight the exciting experiences of Oak Knoll School seniors as they step out of the classroom during the month of May before graduation to complete a Capstone Project. As the final “cap” to their high school experience, Capstones allow seniors to independently explore different areas of interest to them, whether it is academic, creative, career or service-oriented and students are challenged to demonstrate their passion for discovery beyond the limits of the curriculum. Got a Capstone story to tell? Get in touch with laura.perillo@oakknoll.org.

Annemieke Exton ’21

Barriers to Cardiac Care, North Carolina

Q: What is your senior Capstone Project?

A: For my project, I was working from home, doing research, and creating a survey that was sent to medical professionals in a heart failure clinic in North Carolina where I shadowed my project sponsor last summer. After the data analysis of my survey, I created a final write-up. I had already shadowed the doctor who runs the clinic, and he was already reaching out to me to ask if I would be interested to do further work with him before Capstone started, so it was an easy decision. I was interested in this topic after my experience last summer as I saw a lot of patients, black and white, who were in a lot of pain physically and mentally. I had some base knowledge of the health disparities for black Americans and so thought it would be interesting to research further in the field of cardiovascular health.

Q: How and why did you become interested in this?

A: I first became interested in health care around age 9, as my sister was born with a congenital heart condition and we spent a lot of time in the hospital. I have also had surgery for scoliosis and so the hospital seems very comfortable to me oddly enough. I am also very aware of the impact of people’s health on quality of life, visible in my experience at the clinic, so I want to help people through this sector eventually. 

Q: What do you have planned after graduation?

A: I am headed to Leiden University College this fall in the Netherlands doing a course called global challenges which follows many of the intersections between culture, health, and justice that I hoped to explore in this project. 

Greta Criqui ’21

Building Blocks Lacrosse

Q: What is your senior Capstone Project?

A: For my capstone project, I am working with my lacrosse club, Building Blocks Lacrosse. I am helping them with their social media platform and advertising their business to newcomers. I will be going into the office to learn more about their business advertising and filming lacrosse tips and tricks that people can view on their social media. I will also be conducting interviews with former BBL players now in college and their experiences and what advice they have.

Q: How & why did you become interested in this Capstone Project?

A: I always wondered what happened behind the scenes of a business. I know a lot about the player aspect of the Building Blocks Lacrosse club as I was a player there for 8 years. Recently, I have become a coach for BBL and have really enjoyed that experience. For capstone, I wanted to learn more about the business aspect of the club and how I could help them.

Q: How did Oak Knoll School prepare you for your Capstone Project?

A: Oak Knoll prepared me for this capstone by teaching me to not be afraid to speak my ideas. I am very excited to start this journey and learn more about the fundamentals of a business.

Q: What’s next for you after your graduation from Oak Knoll? What are your summer plans? 

A: This fall I will be attending Brown University where I will be playing lacrosse. This summer I plan to be a beach lifeguard in Sea Girt NJ while spending time with family and friends. I plan to major in Economics at Brown University and am really excited for what’s to come! 

Lauren Goetz ’21

Art With Heart Designs

Q: What is your senior Capstone Project?

A: For my senior Capstone Project, I am working at Art With Heart Designs. Art With Heart Designs is a store in Chatham that sells clothes, accessories, and home decor. I work in the store usually three to four times a week, for a couple hours each day. A typical day of working at Art With Heart Designs consists of helping around the store by unboxing new deliveries, pricing items, wrapping gifts, and store organization. Art With Heart Designs also takes a lot of custom orders and I assist with those as well. 

Q: How and why did you become interested in this Capstone Project?

A: For a few years now, I have loved popping into Art With Heart Designs as a customer. I have always loved the atmosphere and the unique collection of items in the store. With my interests in both design and business, I immediately knew that Art With Heart Designs would be an ideal place to work at for my Capstone. I was searching for an internship in which I would be able to pursue my passion for design/fashion, and grow my knowledge of running a business, and Art With Heart Designs was the perfect fit.  

Q: How did Oak Knoll School prepare you for your Capstone Project?

A: One of the main takeaways from my Oak Knoll education is a strong work ethic. Oak Knoll has taught me to be driven, passionate, and dedicated to my work, no matter what it is. Being a student at Oak Knoll for five years has also allowed me to develop time management and organizational skills that are currently enabling me to thrive at Art With Heart Designs.  

Q: What’s next for you after your graduation from Oak Knoll? What are your summer plans? 

A: After I graduate from Oak Knoll, I will be moving on to Villanova University to study business. I am very excited for the opportunities that lay ahead and cannot wait to apply some of the knowledge I gained from working at Art With Heart Designs in the years to come!

Caroline Rowe ’21
Megan Young Designs

Q: What will you be doing for your Capstone Project this month?

A: For my senior Capstone Project I am working with Megan Young at Megan Young Designs. Megan is an interior designer who runs her own business. I am interning for her, so I get to be involved with all her current projects which includes helping to design high-end homes locally, national and some even international. I have been able to sit in on meetings, help her with designs and go to the Decoration & Design Building in New York City to pick up fabrics for clients!

Q: How did you become interested in this Capstone Project?

A: I became interested in this Capstone Project because I have always loved interior design. I knew Mrs. Young before beginning my Capstone and have always admired her style so I thought this would be the perfect place for me to complete my Capstone Project.

Q: How did Oak Knoll School prepare you for your Capstone Project? 

A: One way Oak Knoll helped to prepare me for this Capstone Project is how to be a good note taker and how to be organized.  The organization skills I learned while at Oak Knoll School helped me during Capstone meetings to take thorough notes. These notes were very helpful to better understand the client’s wants. 

Q: What will you be doing after graduation from Oak Knoll School?

A: After graduating from Oak Knoll School this summer I will be attending the University of Richmond and I’m interested in majoring in marketing. 


Emma Burgess ’21

Emma Jane Magazine

Q: For your Capstone you will be working on a magazine that you began called Emma Jane Magazine. When did you start working on this magazine, why and where can we find it?

A: I began working on this project as a one volume/prototype fashion and lifestyle magazine this spring for my independent Senior Capstone Project. Once I complete the magazine at the end of Capstone, I will be printing a few copies, but am also considering and looking into the possibility of a way to release it digitally (stay tuned)! 

Q: How does this Capstone Project relate to what you would like to do after high school? Please explain.

A: I chose to take on this project because of the passion I have for both writing and the fashion industry and the role it plays in what I would like to pursue following high school. In college, I plan to study communications and journalism and I hope to someday work in fashion journalism or public relations. I would love to work for a real fashion magazine someday, so I thought that creating, writing, and designing my own could help prepare me for this! 

Q: How did Oak Knoll School prepare you for college and a career beyond college?

A: Oak Knoll has prepared me for college and beyond by helping me grow in all aspects of my academic life, especially my writing skills which has allowed me to pursue my love for journalism! Through opportunities such as the newspaper, Untucked, and Writer’s Roundtable Oak Knoll has better prepared me to take on future writing endeavors. 

Q: Why was Oak Knoll a special place to be and what will you miss the most?

A: Oak Knoll was a special place to be for me because of all the amazing people I have met and the great memories that I have made over the past 4 years! I am very sad to say goodbye! When I graduate, I am going to miss my classmates, teachers, and the Oak Knoll community, as well as all the traditions that make Oak Knoll so special!

Kasey Lewis ’21

The SPARKS Foundation

Q: What is your senior Capstone Project?

A: Yes, I am volunteering with The SPARKS Foundation for my senior Capstone! SPARKS (Science Projects are Really Kids’ Stuff) is a non-profit based in PA with a goal of making STEM education and enrichment more accessible to underprivileged students and public schools. They provide hands-on science education programs for elementary-age children and provide additional resources for the schools that they help. Due to the pandemic, SPARKS is currently doing their workshops online, but viral learning is dying down as the school year comes to a close. I am working with them virtually, assisting them with behind the scenes work that goes into running the organization, mainly brainstorming and putting together lessons for them to use in the future.

Q: How did you become interested in this Capstone Project?

A: I knew that I wanted to do something involving science for my Capstone, since it is one of my biggest interests academically and career wise and such a broad field with so many different opportunities. I ultimately decided on SPARKS because I really identified with their goal of bringing science to students who may not have had the opportunity to truly explore STEM without SPARKS’ help.

Q: How did OKS prepare you about the importance of giving back to others?

A: Personally, I know that I can attribute some of my love for science to the many wonderful science teachers and classes that I have had over the years, especially at Oak Knoll. I see my volunteer work for my Capstone as a way to pass on that privilege that I had and perhaps encourage other young students to explore STEM and find their passions. Oak Knoll has always encouraged and supported service, and that’s an aspect of the Oak Knoll curriculum that I can remember recognizing from the moment I arrived. From the HOPE Committee to service day, it’s inspiring to see students take an active role in service that they are passionate about, and I hope I can bring that caring spirit with me to college.

Q: What’s next for you after graduation?

A: I will be attending Lehigh University in the Fall as a biology major, and also plan to attend medical school after college. The Capstone Project is a great way to get exposed to the professional world before we even graduate, and personally, it’s shown me the many different sides of science as a career field. Volunteering with SPARKS is a way for me to combine my love for science and service in an impactful way.

Grace McCaghey ‘21

Institute of Regenerative Medicine

Q: What is your senior Capstone Project?

A: I will be working at the Institute of Regenerative Medicine – a stem cell therapy company – in their marketing department. I will be helping to grow their social media platform. They are currently a small institute with goals of becoming a nationwide brand. They hope to do so by reaching out to younger athletes through social media and generally inform more people about the work they do. My job will be to research good marketing strategies for their target demographic and implement them. 

Q: How did you become interested in this Capstone Project?

A: I have a strong interest in both the sciences and marketing/business, which this internship will give me great introductions to. I can also carry this knowledge to almost any other field since marketing is a key element to the success of almost every business. 

Q: How did Oak Knoll School prepare you for your Capstone Project?

A: Oak Knoll prepared me by teaching me to have an excellent work ethic and to not be afraid to step outside of my comfort zone. Thanks to Oak Knoll, I am very excited and ready to embark on this completely new learning experience. 

Q: What’s next for you after your graduation from Oak Knoll?

A: This summer, I plan to work at a local farm stand, and I will be attending Colgate University in the fall as an undecided major. 


Ava Longarzo ‘21

Rolling Stone Magazine

Q: How did you become interested in this Capstone Project?

A: I am very close to my sponsor, Susan Ward, who is Jann Wenner’s personal assistant, and her job always fascinated me. (Jann Wenner is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine). I watched her edit his upcoming biography and deal with a multitude of issues with his family and kids. As someone interested in the entertainment industry, which heavily deals with communications and media, I feel an opportunity to work with illustrious professionals is an incredible experience and will prepare me for working in a fast-paced environment.

Q: How did Oak Knoll School prepare you for your Capstone Project?

A: Oak Knoll School prepared me to be bold and always try to challenge myself in everything I do. When searching for a Capstone Project, I wanted to find something that would not be calm and laid-back but would help me learn to work under pressure with real-life demands. My work ethic and risk-taking habits that developed during my time at OKS have put me in a position to not be afraid to do anything that I have not done before which will heavily benefit me in my stressful projects at Rolling Stone Magazine and my career in the future.

Q: What’s next for you after your graduation from Oak Knoll?

A: I am going to be a drama major at New York University, Tisch next year which I am very excited about! I am focused on a career in the film and television industry, so doing my Capstone Project in New York City will hopefully help me learn to navigate a bit.

Clare Brennan ’21
Williams Sport Training, Whippany

Q: What are you doing for your senior Capstone Project?

A: I am working for Williams Sport Training in Whippany. I will be going into the gym a couple times a week and will be working with Mark Williams, the owner of the sports performance facility for high school, college, and professional athletes. I will be working with him and the social media accounts to help with marketing. This will include filming and editing videos to post and encourage different athletes to come in. I work out at this facility every week and really love the environment and workplace, so I was interested in helping Mark to promote Williams Sport Training and getting more athletes to consider coming. 

Q: What interested you about pursing this Capstone Project?

A: I was particularly interested in doing my Capstone here because I am familiar with the setting and want to learn more about the “behind the scenes” aspects of running a business like this. Along with business aspects, I am excited to learn more about fitness and health in general by being more involved in this workplace, which I have found very fun and motivating. This healthcare/fitness industry has recently become very appealing and instructive to me because of the amount of time I spend in this workplace (three times a week, every week). 

Q: What will you be doing after graduation?

A: Moving on after graduation and into college, I think experience in this industry will be very beneficial for my own development as an athlete as well as growing career path options. I will be playing field hockey at Princeton University, so I think knowledge in fitness industry will be very beneficial as a college athlete and will help me build a strong understanding about fitness, and then learn more about its specifics in college athletics and possibly explore career opportunities in this area.”

oak knoll crest in gold