Great Path Senior Visits ESPN to Complete Capstone Project



Great Path Senior Visits ESPN to Complete Capstone Project

Ryan Brumant, a senior at Great Path Academy, was still smiling a full 24 hours after he returned from ESPN.  His visit was in order to support his Capstone work, a graduation requirement of all seniors.  Throughout the course and with the support of his teachers, including his advisory teacher, Mr. Simpson, his culinary and business teacher, Mrs. Sherman and his physical education teacher, Mr. Basile, he crafted his capstone topic, beginning with his volunteer hours of assisting with coaching the girls’ basketball team at Capital Preparatory Magnet School.  Through his time spent with the coaches there, who were athletes in college and many conversations, he was able to pinpoint a focus for his topic- the prominent issue in the news of the exploitation of athletes, whether or not college athletes should be compensated during their time playing for a college, as they bring in huge revenue to the colleges that they represent.  Ryan also felt that this was a topic close to his heart, as he is an aspiring college athlete and intends to tryout at his future college.  After working with his father and discussing the news pieces on college players experiencing hunger, this relevant and trending topic hooked him into his Capstone project.  

Through planning and discussions with his teachers, he decided that he needed to expose himself to more concerning the topic. He began with researching it online, looking for authentic pieces of news and interviews that would help to provide information about the topic.  He specifically wanted to know the viewpoints and support for both sides of whether or not college athletes should be paid to play college sports. He formulated his own hypothesis and opinion first, prior to the visit.  Then, he crafted interview questions, as his teachers reached out to coordinate the visit to ESPN.  During Ryan’s visit to ESPN, he met with Meg Green, Senior Director of Talent, Recruitment and Negotiation, who toured the site, showing the visitors studios, such as the studio for His and Her and shared how everything worked to prepare the content for television and radio. 

Ryan then had the opportunity to sit down with Laphonso Ellis, an analyst at ESPN.  Ellis played college sports during his undergraduate career at Notre Dame and then went straight to the NBA.  He was drafted to the Nuggets and then played on other NBA teams.  Ryan was interested in hearing an insider view on the topic of college sports players getting compensated. Ellis shared his story- how his school sold t-shirts with his number on them, but not his name, how on some nights he had to choose between doing laundry or eating.  Ellis’ opinion is that the players should be compensated, but rather than paying them during their time in college, money should be placed in a trust for college players.  After the discussion, Ryan shifted his viewpoint from thinking that players should be paid, to “I don’t think they should get money, but they should have more benefits… like to always ensure that they have something to feed themselves.  Hearing his side made me think about it more and more from his perspective.” Ryan wants people to think about the various aspects of this controversy and learn, just as he did, from his presentation and report, that it is not a black and white issue.  

Ryan is also very grateful for the opportunity to speak to a professional.  Mr. Basile, Great Path Academy’s physical education instructor, stated that this was “a great opportunity for him (Ryan) to see a big time operation” and that the experience “brought out amazing conversation with an ex-athlete, they talked about everything from home life to college.”  
The Great Path Academy vision of the Capstone experience is transitioning to become a cornerstone of the GPA experience.  GPA Capstone advisors Ms. Thurrott, Ms. Gillies and Mr. Simpson believe strongly that students should be getting out to work with the community on something that excites them.  Beginning with school year 2014-15, graduating seniors are required to present their Capstones to a panel, including a parent or guardian, teachers, administrators, representatives from their internship and fellow students for approval per the GPA Capstone rubric.  Seniors will be presenting to juniors on the Capstone process, to offer advice and guidance for their process ahead. 

Ryan’s story is representative of the belief in the school and district that the Capstone process and culmination can be engaging students in an issue that faces their culture or world that interests them and will extend their exposure to the topic in a variety of real world ways.  Students can interact with the real world and learn how to network and create connections; the experience can teach them advocacy, communication skills and hone in on 21st century learning skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives.  

Submitted by,
Anastasia DiFedele-Dutton
Magnet Theme Coach
Great Path Academy @ Manchester Community College
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