Capstone showcase welcomes distinguished guests as RPHS students feature on-campus research projects

Brit Milazzo

Twenty-three students – the largest cohort since its inception – were part of the RIT-RPHS capstone program this school year that exposed them to subjects in bacteria and biology, criminal justice, data and statistics, game design and mechanical engineering. They worked alongside RIT faculty each week since the fall, and held a final showcase to highlight their research to guests such as teachers, families, and RIT faculty and staff. President David Munson kicked off the event with a welcome speech.

Jalona Dunn is hoping to study game design at Rochester Institute of Technology. To help give her experience before heading to college, she had the opportunity this school year to participate in the annual RIT-RPHS capstone program that allowed her and more than 20 Rochester Prep High School students to work with university faculty in various subject areas, including game design.

“I really enjoyed being a part of capstone because it lets us work on a college campus and with real world applications,” said Dunn, a senior at Rochester Prep. “I think it’s important because it kind of gives us a heads up about what to expect in college that other students might not get to have.”

This year’s capstone allowed small groups of students to work with faculty in one of five fields that also included bacteria and biology, criminal justice, data and statistics, and mechanical engineering. On Feb. 13, final presentations were made at Ingle Auditorium to an audience of their families, peers and teachers; leadership from the K-12 University Center; and distinguished guests such as RIT President David Munson, who made a welcoming address.

"I think RIT has an opportunity to really utilize the human capitol that we have on campus to try to resolve some of our big challenges or social issues, and also train the next generation of world changers and change makers in our society," said Irshad Altheimer, the director for the Center of Public Safety Initiatives. "I think it's important to expose young people early on to technology, put them in a lab and give them an opportunity to be a problem solver."

Altheimer helped spearhead the criminal justice capstone class – an opportunities that was new this school year, and allowed five students to learn about intervention programs to help combat community issues such as gun violence and substance abuse.

Capstone is one of many programs hosted on campus for Rochester Prep students through its partnership with the university that encourages learning and development. The semester-long initiative gives small groups of high school students the chance to meet weekly with faculty mentors and teaching assistants. The result is a research project that simulates work in a college course.

The partnership was established in 2013 with help from board of trustee member Ron Zarrella as a educational collaboration among the university and Rochester-based charter school. The idea was to supplement RPHS education with a focus on experiences at RIT’s campus, which starts during students’ freshman year, and builds with additional activities and events. The partnership is facilitated by RIT’s K-12 University Center.


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