Seniors Steal the Show at Symposium

By Rebecca Canosa


(Left to Right) Chris Kemp, Emily Russak, Rebecca Martell, Timothy Smith, and Caroline Cubells. Photo by Rebecca Canosa.

Family members and fellow students sat in the audience, patiently waiting, while five brave seniors prepared to present their theses before a panel of judges at 7:00 PM on May 2.

The Senior Symposium is an annual event at SCS in which selected seniors deliver speeches about their thesis topics along with a PowerPoint presentation. There are three judges who then score the students, awarding partial scholarships to the top three.

Timothy Smith began the night with an eye opening presentation titled, “Music Therapy: A Therapeutic Intervention for Individuals with Autism.” He opened with a video of his younger brother, Jon, explaining the impact of music therapy on his own life, living with autism. It is a treatment that is usually dismissed because it is unconventional, but Smith showed the audience and judges panel just how valuable and life-changing it can be.

Smith said, “Music is a powerful medium; music can tear down the walls of limitations.”

Following Smith, Chris Kemp’s presentation sought to bring to light which is the better option between cognitive therapy and medication to treat depression. He said that 31.8 Million people are affected by depression and although medication companies promise that their pills will be 90% successful within the first year, they only work on 14% of the population. He then went on the inform the audience that cognitive therapy is 70% successful and a combination of the two may work even better than one alone.

“Medication is put on a pedestal as the cure to depression, while in reality this is not the case. I believe God has anointed cognitive therapy,” said Kemp.

Another presentation centered around autism came from Emily Russak, who falls on the autism spectrum herself. Her thesis petitioned to debunk the stigmas and construct an understanding society for the autistic. Russak’s four steps to achieving this consisted of getting educated, exposing the oppression, stopping the promotion of cures and awareness, and promoting acceptance. Russak claimed awareness spreads stigmas and misrepresents the autistic community.

“It is not a disease. It doesn’t need to be cured, it needs to be understood,” said Russak.

Caroline Cubells gave a compelling presentation on female genital mutilation. She went on to explain that it is a ritualized torture that originated in a lack of medical knowledge because there is no use of anesthetics, cruel and unsterile tools are used, and thorns are often used for stitches. Cubells’ solution to the problem suggested that the Western World must take initiative and begin to solve the problem on American soil, then the community leaders in third-world countries must address the issue and create an alternative and positive rite of passage for young girls.

The final presenter was Rebecca Martell. She spoke on an alternative treatment to combat scoliosis rather than adolescent idiopathic spinal fusion surgery. In her presentation, Martell informed the audience that although 80% of cases of scoliosis are found to be idiopathic, only 1% of adolescents need surgery. Failure for the surgery is 50% and the results will last around 15 years, meaning the child will have to come in again and again to have it redone. She suggested physical exercises which will provide the most long-lasting results while retraining the brain and reaching the spine to fix itself. Martell herself is a success story of this method. Her family had chosen to reject the surgery and began physical therapy, making a huge impact on her life.

To sum up her presentation, Martell said, “I am no longer in chronic pain, I no longer fear spinal collapse.”

After all of the students had presented, the judges panel consisting of Matt Triano, Jeff Eichenlaub, and Carrie Gillen, broke for a brief intermission to deliberate the winners. They based their decisions on the quality of the thesis paper, the way in which students answered questions, the appearance of the presentation on the screen, and the actual presentation.


(Left to Right) Rebecca Martell (second place), Timothy Smith (first place), and Caroline Cubells (third place). Photo via Mrs. Whitehorn.

Coming in third place was was Caroline Cubells, who won 200 dollars for college expenses.

Second place was awarded to Rebecca Martell, who won 300 dollars for college expenses, and in first place was Tim Smith, who won 500 dollars for college expenses.

The night was highly educational and truly showcased just how intelligent and hard-working the seniors are at SCS, keeping the audience engaged and attentive.


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