SCLA Capstones Saved by the Outdoors


Photo courtesy of Carrie Adams

Hosting the SCLA Casptone Mentor Dinner outside allowed for more attendees on September 27, 2021 at Silver Creek. This event would’ve usually been held inside. According to Lauren Kohn, a SCLA 12 teacher, “If we have a higher number of people, as long as we can host the event outside, then that seems to be keeping every[one] safe”.

Hannah Deibert, Staff Writer

After a year of uncertainty, SCLA Capstones return to normalcy thanks to the outdoors. SCLA, or Silver Creek Leadership Academy, is a program specialized to Silver Creek that works towards creating excellent future university students that go on to become leaders in society. During their senior year of SCLA, students part of the program will complete a capstone project.

Lauren Kohn has been teaching Silver Creek Leadership Academy [SCLA] since its start in 2009 and has been working with senior SCLA capstones since 2013. Mrs. Kohn says that an SCLA capstone can fall under two categories, service or career project. Ms. Kohn says a career project is to allow a student to “get an idea of the possibility of what that career field would look like”. A service project is anything to improve the community.

COVID made the execution of these SCLA Capstones immensely more difficult. Kohn says that in comparison this year is a major improvement upon last year’s situation, “Last year everything was so up in the air it felt like day by day”. Students had to make every part of their capstone online, with no physical human interaction.

This year, there is hope for the seniors’ capstones. While coronavirus is still an obstacle, Kohn says that having events with higher numbers of people outside has provided a great way to have safe events. For example, on September 27, the SCLA parent/mentor dinner was held outside. This is an event that in the past
was held indoors.

SCLA seniors Mia VanLeeuwen and Mayson Bogrett echo the idea of outdoor activities providing a way to return to normalcy. VanLeeuwens capstone project is bringing awareness and enhancing the unified sports program at Silver Creek. VanLeeuwen says that in the spring, unified track season being outside will make it a fairly low risk season.

Bogrett’s capstone shares a similar theme, as she will be taking on organizing and putting on Day of Champions, a special event on May 16 that unifies special education students through sports. Bogrett says that all of her sporting events on Day of Champions will be held outside in order to fit the current guidelines.

Despite the appeal of the outdoors, there still are some concerns. VanLeeuwen is most worried about the winter unified basketball season, “Typically we would have basketball and play other schools, but due to COVID, cross contamination and exposures, we don’t know if it is going to be a possibility yet.” It is especially a concern because a lot of the students participating in unified sports are already at high risk.

Even with all the obstacles COVID has presented, it has created some benefits. Being forced to go virtual last year has opened the door for a better way to do things. “Our expo will be virtual again, but we are doing that kind of by choice because we kind of liked the way it worked out last year,” Kohn says. “Parents and students could share the link out to grandparents and a lot more people were able to actually see the cool stuff the kids were doing”.

Bogrett uses the events of the past year to find appreciation of connection with others by saying, “I think since everything was shut down for a long time, it gave a new perspective of taking advantage of the time we get to spend with the unified kids”. Vanleeuwen says similarly, “we realized we had been taking things for granted”. Both VanLeeuwen and Bogrett said that if coronavirus didn’t exist, they would still be doing the same capstone.

The outdoors provide a solution to the question and uncertainty of COVID. After last year, anything to get SCLA captones back to normal is promising. What’s on the horizon leaves Ms. Kohn and seniors hopeful.