Norwalk’s All Saints students channel their passions into capstone projects

NORWALK — All Saints Catholic School eighth-graders got a head start on their peers across the state this week, completing a year-long capstone project that will be a requirement for all graduating seniors in Connecticut next year.

The soon-to-be high school students presented their projects this week to their families, classmates and three guest panelists. The presentation was the culmination of work that began at the end of last school year.

The projects reflect students’ own passions and their concern for others. They focused on issues related to fashion, the environment, sports safety, aging, emotional health and making everyday tasks a little easier.

“I tell them it’s about them. It’s your show. They’ve been doing a great job,” said Xavier Guzman, the middle school science teacher.

Caralena Smith created The Pointe Shoelace Un-tier to help with quick changes during dance recitals as well as in-between classes. The invention reduces the amount of time it takes to unlace ballet pointe shoes. A dancer may only have one to three minutes to change shoes, costumes and redo their hair and makeup before heading back onstage.

“When your dance is going on, no one waits for you, so you have to be ready in order to get onstage. I have struggled getting on on time,” Smith said. “I realize it’s a problem every pointe dancer struggles with.”

Alexis Adcock drew inspiration from her mother in her creation of the Happy Horn.

“There’s a running joke in my family that my mom has road rage,” said Adcock, who created a car horn with a “nicer tone” to alert other drivers instead of honking aggressively.

In her research, she found three cases in the past week of people being charged with assault or murder in connection with road rage. Adcock received a little help from her uncle, an engineer, in uploading the “happy” tune to an mp3 player to demonstrate how the horn would work.

The capstone program is in its seventh year at All Saints. This week was the first time in two years families and other guests were invited to observe the presentations. In 2020, the presentations were made over Zoom due to the pandemic.

Guzman also wanted to make the project more multidisciplinary with students practicing their presentation skills in their language arts classes and writing their reflection pieces as an English assignment.

The capstone project helped Isabella Santa-Lopez strengthen her critical thinking skills and learn how to put maximum effort into her assignments. She created The Relieve Pen, which plays soothing sounds to help people dealing with anxiety.

“You really have to put a lot of effort into, and it has to be something your passionate about,” Santa-Lopez said of completing the capstone.