At Founders Classical Academy of Leander, each student writes, orally delivers, and defend a thesis a topic of his or her choosing that emerges from the curriculum. Each student adapts his or her paper in to a speech that is delivered publicly and defended to a panel of faculty members. A satisfactory performance on the writing and presentation of the thesis is required for graduation.
The Culmination of Years of Study
At Founders Classical Academy, the senior thesis is the culmination of a student’s classical education and a rite of passage to a life of virtue and self-government. The student’s thesis may concentrate on books, events, or themes that draw upon any of the core courses and should serve as a capstone project, one which brings together the things a student has learned during his or her time at the school.
The Guiding Question: What is the Good Life?
As the student deliberates about how to answer the guiding question, he or she should address the other serious questions that are implied by it. The following questions are examples of the kinds of questions that a student may also consider when thinking about the prompt: What is the nature of a human being? What does it mean to be a good citizen? What does it mean to be a hero? What activity, or activities, are part of the best human life? What is justice? What is beautiful? Is it true that human beings have a purpose or end, and if so, what is that end or purpose?
These are big questions for a high school student to consider, and so students are invited to adopt a particular perspective on the question based on the books, events, ideas, heroes, and human achievements that have most provoked them during their education. Students should begin to ponder the question by asking themselves which historical or literary figures they have found admirable, what ideas they have learned to be true, and what books have taught them the most in their education. A student can then venture a response to the question by speaking through the great thinkers and the great books he or she has studied.
Students from the Class of 2017 sucessfully defended senior theses on C.S. Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, St. Augustine, Levin from Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to name a few.
Senior Thesis defenses happen each spring and are open to all members of the Founders Classical Academy community.
Basil Inman, Class of 2017, argues for the contemplative life in his senior thesis presentation.
Bianca Ritter, Class of 2017, defends the thesis that joy is an essential part of the good life.