O'Neal unveils Signature Scholars Research Program

The O’Neal School announced its new Signature Scholars Research Program (SSRP) to begin this fall.

This selective program is for upperclassmen who are not only academically strong but also inherently motivated and passionate about a subject area.   This two-year intensive research study will be directed by English Department Chair Dr. Nicole Camastra.

Students who complete the program will earn a diploma with distinction from O’Neal.  This unique program was developed by Dr. Camastra and Head of School John Elmore, in conjunction with Head of Upper School Matt Jacobs and O’Neal’s Academic Committee. 

Current sophomores may apply for the program this spring.  If accepted, they will take the Research Methodology and Philosophy class taught by Dr. Camastra in 11th grade. At the end of the course students will have written their annotated bibliography and research proposal.  

The research proposal will be unique to each student’s scholarly interests.  Students will identify experts on their research topic as credible sources and plan the schedule and phases of the project from beginning to end.

During the second year of the program, each SSRP student will work with a faculty mentor who has expertise in the research area.  

Each student will produce a paper of approximately 10,000 words or a portfolio/product of relative weight and value. They will present and discuss their research before the school community and will be open to the public. 

The school believes that O’Neal’s SSRP will allow these exceptional students to engage in an intensive student-centered and inquiry-based study that will challenge them well beyond a normal college preparatory or Advanced Placement program. 

Dr. Camastra writes of the program, “In addition to the honor of finishing the program and earning the distinction on their diploma, students will emerge from the SSRP with a well-wrought and well-earned point of view on their given topic. They will have become well-acquainted with the requisite elements of research, placing them at a great advantage among their peers at the college level. Moreover, they will have identified and established a network of contacts in the student’s primary discipline, contacts that have the potential to grow and nurture the student’s personal investment in the research area. In this sense, the project has the potential to continue growing and adding value to the student’s life well beyond its two-year requirement at the Upper School level.” 

All students in the O’Neal Upper School complete a research paper each year as part of the English department’s curriculum.  The SSRP will provide an even more advanced, robust academic experience for qualified O’Neal students.  

“Examples of topics could be researching psychology and industrial design to create a product to meet the needs of adolescents with ADD/ADHD or an intense study of astrophysics to understand the universe and our place within it,” says Head of School John Elmore. “While they work to quench their desire to learn more on a topic for which they are passionate, I look forward to seeing students develop an area of expertise. Their accomplishments will be showcased, and their O’Neal diploma marked ‘with distinction’ will recognize the achievement.”

Feature photo: Head of O’Neal School John Elmore.


Courtesy photo/Contributed.

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