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Athens Academy celebrates inaugural Capstone Project cohort

left to right: Tara Dolan, Neela Sudhagar, Nikki Chester, Kate Towery, Allison Turney, Elizabeth Raeber, Anvesha Das, George Barkley

On May 9 six students and their families, teachers, and mentors gathered for a celebration of Athens Academy’s very first Capstone Project cohort. George Barkley, Anvesha Das, Tara Dolan, Elizabeth Raeber, Neela Sudhagar, and Elijah Sultan each gave a short behind-the-scenes glimpses into their work over the past two years,

Cohort members Walter Hequembourg and Margalit Mauricio were unable to attend because they were competing in a state track meet,

Project coordinators Nikki Chester, Kate Towery, and Allison Turney welcomed the guests and shared their pleasure in working with the students and watching them learn and grow.

These students’ eight projects are as unique as they are impressive:

George Barkley spent part of a summer studying in France for “Language and Culture Empower Globalization;”

Tara Dolan used her extensive travel experience and work with people learning English in “The Circle of Language: Learning New Languages and Sharing My Own.m;”

Walter Hequembourg channeled his love of woodworking and his eye for detail into “The Art of Craftsmanship;”

Anvesha Das worked to find solutions for food insecurity while learning to adjust her expectations with her project “Closing the Gap: Fighting Insecurity and Embracing Failure;”

Neela Sudhagar, who plans to study medicine, studied “The Impact of COVID-19 in Hospitals;”

Margalit Mauricio turned her scientific curiosity and laboratory experience in “Examining Athens Academy’s Water Quality through Fecal Coliform Sampling;”

Elijah Sultan expanded his imagination by developing an entirely new language, Thoulem, for his project, “How I Made a Language”

Elizabeth Raeber also explored language using her talents as a writer, learning from published authors and participating in intensive summer workshops for her project, “A Writer’s Work.”

As part of the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan, the Capstone Project was created to offer students "the opportunity to engage in a culminating project that will demonstrate their knowledge, learning and growth through the completion of a collaborative and multifaceted project.” At the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, thirteen students were selected to participate in the 2024 Capstone cohort—the inaugural group. By the spring of 2024, eight remained in the program. We are proud to announce that all eight seniors have completed the project and successfully defended it before a committee of faculty and administrators, and each has earned the Capstone designation.

Ms. Chester, Ms. Towery, and Dr. Turney are all looking ahead to next year, as the sixteen members of the 2025 Capstone cohort enters their final year of work in preparation for the defense of their project—with the 2026 cohort not far behind them! Thank you to the coordinators for their hard work and commitment to this process, to the many faculty and community members who have served as mentors for our students, and to the families and friends who have supported these students along the way. Congratulations, Spartans!

Athens Academy is an independent, co-educational school for students in K3 through 12th grade, located on a beautiful 152-acre campus in Northeast Georgia. Now in its 57th year, Athens Academy pursues its mission of “excellence with honor” through academics, athletics, fine arts, and service and leadership. Ranked the #1 private school in Athens, #9 college prep school in the state of Georgia, and #1 private school in Northeast Georgia (

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