Renaissance School Senior Thesis 2017

Seven seniors. Seven projects. Unlimited horizons.


Senior Thesis is a rigorous, year-long required class for graduation from Renaissance School. During the summer after 11th grade, rising seniors submit proposals for a 15-page thesis paper and related, substantial project. Once approved, they spend the full year on multiple iterations of their paper as well as pursuing their project. Students present their projects to the full school community. The final step is a formal thesis defense before the faculty.

Acree McDowell

Acree is currently a senior at Renaissance School in Charlottesville, VA. She is interested in Synthetic Biology, Psychology, and Ethics.

Research Paper Thesis Statement: “The problem with the racehorse industry is that horses are bred and raced in excess because people make money off of them. Inevitably, there are unsuccessful horses which are unwanted and often suffer mistreatment and abuse while they are being sent to slaughter, and the members and officials involved in the industry often disregard rule violations. Possible solutions to this serious problem include more rigid consequences for offenders and limits to the number of races horses are permitted to run.”

Project Abstract: My project is about responsible horse breeding and the financial needs of a horse breeding farm. For my project, I will write a business plan for a horse breeding farm. I would like it to be as practical as it can be; I want to simulate what I would give to the bank if I were to apply for a business loan. I already know a good amount about horse care and the cost of keeping horses, but I would like to learn more about how to make money and how to ensure that all of the animals are taken care of well and are in good health.

Acree’s blog documenting her year of horse breeding research and business plan development may be found here.


Clark is an artist who wants to go into illustration, specifically character and creature design.

Research Paper Thesis Statement: “By using speculative anatomy, experts can understand what dinosaurs’ anatomy was like and create made up creatures.”

Project Abstract: My project is focuses on creating an ARPG. ARPG, Art Role Playing Game is like a RPG, Role Playing Game, but uses art and creative writing to play the game. I have designed my own species of dragon called Acotles. They are a mixture of horse, dog, and cute little noodles- sorry, I mean snakes. I have created genes for their markings, allowing players to breed and collect acotles with rare markings. Players will draw their acotle(s) to complete quests and events to expand the World of Raymin.

Clark’s ARPG, Acotle Grove, may be visited here.

Clark’s blog documenting his year of anatomy research and Art Role Play Game development may be found here.


Elizabeth is a graduating senior of Renaissance school, class of 2017. Her interests include history, photography and writing. She hopes to pursue International studies in college.

Research Paper Thesis Statement: “The attempted coup of July 16, 2016 was triggered by religious tensions within the Turkish government. Friction between Islam and Secularism, as embodied in the policies of Mustafa Kemal, later called Ataturk, are at the root of most of the modern conflicts within Turkey. These tensions can be traced back to the disintegration of the Ottoman empire and the birth of the Modern Turkish republic in the years after World War I. An examination of the recently failed coup will demonstrate a trend toward increased religious sentiment within Turkey from the time of the rise of Ataturk’s Turkish republic.”

Project Abstract: This art book will revolve around the idea of control using the subject of hands as a metaphor for this concept. The concept of control is a fundamental idea of this research paper and by exploring exactly what control means and the forms control can take. 

Elizabeth’s blog documenting her year of research and her art response may be found here.

Lise Mychaleckyj

Lise is a senior at the Renaissance School, who is also doing an exchange in Brazil this year and did an exchange to Ecuador in 2015. In the past, she has taken classes on genetic engineering and competed in competitions such as BioBuilders and Genes in Space. She has also studied photography for three years, with a focus in street photography.

Research Paper Thesis Statement: “Street photography, while often mistaken for social documentary photography, is a distinct type of art. Its origins are rooted in the Impressionist movement due to the fact that both forms of art desired to capture the beauty in everyday life. A street photographer also approaches their work as art rather than journalism and views street photographs as creating art rather discovering art.”

Project Abstract: For my project, I have a travel blog. It is a way to show my photographs throughout the year, as my knowledge of photography increases, and as my aesthetic evolves. It would also be a way to document my travels and experiences in Brazil. Throughout the week I take pictures of my life abroad and then post them on my blog with a story to accompany them. I also write in Portuguese and English. I want to show my life in Brazil to my friends, not only in the United States, but also throughout the world. Lise’s travel blog may be enjoyed here.

Lise’s blog documenting her year of research and practice of street photography may be viewed here.


Jessica is a senior at Renaissance school, interested in social justice, human rights, world peace, and protecting the earth.

Research Paper Thesis Statement: “Camping is not just about the appreciation of nature but about coexisting with nature with the goal of minimizing impact.” For my research paper I researched camping choices on food, water, camping gear, campsite, waste removal and transportation.

Project Abstract: As a way to have a hands on learning experience of this research, I journaled my way through four camping trips in which I had the goal to minimize trace and environmental footprint in each of the above stated categories. Throughout the camping trips, and as I furthered my research, I learned how to be more eco-friendly in my day-to-day life as well as while camping, and being in nature. Within this journal, for each trip I have recorded: the planning beforehand, the food, and other gear brought, mileage, meals eaten, discussion of the campsite, a discussion of resources I used and did not use and the lessons I learned along the way about camping and being eco-friendly. I have included photos to better describe the different components of my camping trips. With the support of my research, hands-on experiences, and friends, I grew to be more environmentally conscious and learned how to make pro-active choices to protect our environment.

Jessica’s blog on her research and experiences with eco-friendly camping may be read here.

Conall Stevenson

Conall is a senior at Renaissance School.

Research Paper Thesis Statement: “Music therapy and melodic intonation therapy can provide many benefits to patients suffering from a variety of ailments, such as disorders of consciousness, neurogenic communication disorders, and conditions such as pain and nausea. Patients receiving these therapy techniques can witness improvements, including increased brain stimulation, improved speech, and a better emotional state.”

Project Abstract: My project is to design and build a weatherized dog kennel that includes a speaker system. This will include blueprints, a marketing brochure, and either a prototype or significant scale model.


Nico is a senior in highschool and a volunteer firefighter. He hopes to attain a BS in fire science in college. His interests include wilderness excursions and sailing.

Research Paper Thesis Statement: “Introducing a Basic Emergency Medical education to a broader spectrum of society will lower human fatality rates correlated with limited access to first aid by increasing density of available, trained individuals.”

Project Abstract: I believe there is a strong case to teach emergency medicine to high school students. I will develop a curriculum to do so using materials and information derived from the SOLO wilderness first aid class. The developed curriculum will cover scene and patient analysis, musculoskeletal injuries and soft tissue injuries.

Nico’s blog documenting his research and curriculum development may be read here.

Renaissance School is a college preparatory high school for high ability students in the arts, sciences, and/or humanities.  We emphasize both broad and deep interdisciplinary learning through a balanced program equally strong in the arts and academics.  Renaissance School embraces the whole student through differentiated and experiential learning.  We emphasize creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.