Why We Do What We Do: The Senior Thesis

art of debate

The Senior Thesis

Families choose Liberty Classical for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s a safe environment. For others, it’s the private school level of personal attention. For some, it’s about being Christian. For some, it’s classical education. For most, it’s a combination of these. There’s a lot that goes into education at Liberty.

And the more time you spend with Liberty Classical, the more you’ll discover that there’s a reason for everything we do.

Bigger than One Assignment

Every senior at Liberty Classical is required to do a senior thesis. It’s not a project that takes place independently of all other assignments. Instead, it’s the culmination of everything a student has done at Liberty Classical.

Our seniors have walked through the stages of classical education, beginning with the form and functions of learning (in the Grammar stage) and the foundations of reason and argument (in the Logic stage). They’ve lived and learned in a context of critical thinking, research, persuasive writing and debate, virtue, and authentic community. Our students have been trained to distinguish between truth and lies. They can identify flawed logic and they understand that ideas have consequences. They have been challenged to think well and to think for themselves.

Our seniors have been on a journey of discovery, purpose, training, and inspiration.

The senior thesis brings this all together in one experience.

It is a project that produces an artifact. The artifact becomes something that they can point to...a reward for their journey. It gives our students the chance to compile all the skills and wisdom that their Liberty Classical education provides and demonstrate it to their peers and, most importantly, to themselves.

The Senior Thesis

  • A topic worth discussing...usually something weighty or controversial
  • A 20-page research paper
  • A 10-minute presentation
  • A 10-minute thesis defense

The seniors’ theses will be publicly presented on Monday, May 21st. On that evening, from 6-9:00 p.m., each Liberty Classical senior will present a persuasive speech based on their 20-page research paper. They will defend their theses against challenges from a panel of judges and will use the rules of grammar, logic, and rhetoric to state their cases.

And then when it’s done, the seniors will have that artifact, that accomplishment. It will be written in black and white. It will be written in their memories as a testament to their hard work and ability…of their learning that was bigger than getting a grade or finishing an assignment. They will have tools to think, to lead, and to serve that will be with them for the rest of their lives. The senior thesis showed them that.

Perhaps the senior thesis is best understood as a sort of living diploma.

If a diploma could talk…

If it could give the details of books that were read and discoveries that were made…and if it could speak to virtue and give demonstrations of courage and sound judgment...and if it could capture that “Aha!” moment…and if a diploma spoke to the substance of a life and not just the assignments of a curriculum…and if a diploma gave us a glimpse of what good leadership looked like and how it sounded when a young person could reason and communicate with maturity and conviction...and if it showed us a picture of what it looked like when a young person’s beliefs took root…

If a diploma could do all of that, well then I suppose we’d be having a different conversation about the senior thesis at Liberty Classical Academy.

The senior thesis is where we get to see our seniors live out what they’ve been learning at Liberty Classical.

We do it because we like to watch good thinking at work. We like to see strong rhetoric on display and see our seniors step out into adulthood with the tools that we all need. We do it for many reasons.

But ultimately, we do it for our seniors. They deserve to see what they can do.