TA News

TOP Capstone Projects

Take a look at what the students from the Outdoor Education course did for their capstone projects this term.

Why to Join TOP Video

By Carter Banks

Click here to watch

My goal for the project is to inspire students to take this class, and give them an honest look at what what being in the TOP course is like. This Capstone project is 4 minute marketing video for the Thetford Outdoor Program. I decided to do the video when I realized that this could be a useful resource for students thinking about taking this class in the future. I also wanted to share my experiences in this class with the world. I learned a lot about how to make a video while doing this project. First I began developing a schedule and then I wrote a script. Once I had a script I liked I began filming. Each time I took a shot and looked at it I got better at speaking in front of the camera. And then I went into editing. I thought editing would be a long process but it ended up being simpler than I expected. Making a film is a skill that I will use in my future. I had a lot of fun making this video and I might even consider redoing it and making it even better.

A Bench to sit on.

By Kobe Pierson

My Name is Kobe Pierson and I built a bench for the trails at Thetford Academy and the State Forest. I wanted to build a bench because I noticed a major junction of trails with no place to sit. The bench is placed at this key junction of trails for people to rest, wait up for friends and take a break.

I used pressure treated wood to build my bench so it should last a long time. I found a picture online and used the picture for guidance on how I would build the bench.

I learned that if you put my mind to something that you want to do and stick with it you can achieve your goals. I made something that will be used for a long time, even after I leave high school. I hope that the community will use my bench and they will like what I have created.

Improving the Sugar Shack

By Emma Thorburn

For my capstone project I made a table and a bench in the new sugar shack. First I measured how big the table was going to be. Then I picked the wood and I cut the wood to make it look how I wanted it.  After it was all together I put 3” hinges to attach the table to the back wall of the sugar shack. I used hinges so when we are not using the table it could go up and not waste any space. I made legs and attached them to the table by using 1” hinges so the legs would also collapse. I used plexiglass for the top of the table to  make the it completely flat and a cleanable surface for bottling the maple syrup.

    For the bench I picked out a 10” wide and 6’ long pine board that was left over from making the sugar shack.. I made two legs with two horizontal supports to hold the legs and the bench up. I used hinges to make the bench fold up just like the table. I chose to make a folding table and a bench because I felt like it would be the most useful thing to add to the sugar shack. The bench and table will be helpful when there are guests visiting to learn about maple sugaring. During this project I learned more about tools and building on my own. I also learned that I can now build a folding table and a bench.  

An Update to Online Information

By Louisa Pyle

My name is Louisa Pyle, and for my capstone project in the Thetford Outdoor Program, I decided to update the online information regarding the Thetford Hill State Park. The two main sources I could find, Wikipedia ( and the official Vermont State Park website (, both had extremely outdated information, talking about an active summer camp and a designated picnic area. Both of these have been out of commission for some time, so updating this information was the main priority. I also added more information about how the state acquired the land and the current state of the park.

    I chose this project because maintaining digital information on local places and keeping them up to date is important. Visitors may find something interesting to learn from these online sources, or future students may find things to help with their research. Even people who have lived here their whole lives might learn something about their town that they had never known before.

A Table to Last for Years

By Henry Wimett

For my capstone project last year built a picnic table to be placed up at the yurt. This year I finish the table. This included sanding and staining to insure it lasts a long time. This capstone was way more fun for me this year because it wasn’t as challenging to finish the table as it was to build it.  Staining is time consuming. I had to wait an hour in between each coat of stain. What I learned from doing this project is the process of staining takes a long time and you have to plan ahead. I built this table so future students will have a place to sit and learn outside the yurt. My table will be a part of TA for a long time.

Lighting up the Sugar House

By Parker LaHaye

For my capstone project I added lights to the new sugar shack. The point of this project is to solve the issue of visibility during the night time when work is done. My lighting solution will provide enough light to last 8 hours throughout the night. The lighting is made of LED’s and 1 solar panel for an eco friendly and renewable source of electricity. I learned that anything can be accomplished with time and effort.

Re-Purposing Hiking Trails

By Tait Linehan

    For my capstone project I worked on mapping existing hiking trails, submitting a proposal to the state to repurposed hiking trails to be multi-use trails on which mountain bikes are allowed. I joined a group of Thetford residents that showed great interest in having a network of mountain bike trials easily accessible to the public in the town of Thetford. I worked with Scott to create a map of a trail based around Thetford Academy and the state forest that could be a potential Mt. bike trail.

I chose this project because biking has always been a part of my life, but recently it has become more involved in who I am. This past summer through biking I discovered a lot about myself. So this project is very important to me and I want others to have access to an experience that may or may not change them. These trials will be mapped out and open to the public. I learned that there are lots of rules and regulations when it comes to state land, even if the land is under the care of an institution that is not the state. I learned more about using a GPS/GPS App and how to build maps. This is the map of proposed multi use trails. The highlighted property is the state forest. Hopefully in the future, be it near and far, these trails will be used  by many and inspire people to take up mountain biking and maybe other sports too.

Softball Bleachers Repair

By Jackson Kingsbury

My name is Jackson Kingsbury, in Thetford Outdoor Program each student completes a  capstone project where we pick something to do that will either help the class or the community. I chose to fix and redo the softball bleachers. I will be pulling all the old boards off, painting them and putting the new boards back on. John Brown helped me by straightening the metal cross bars so the bleachers will sit up straighter. I chose this project because my sister played softball and when I watched the games I noticed how old, and rough looking the bleachers are. I will continue to work on the bleachers for my spring capstone project.

When the bleachers are done they will be able to be used by the community for multiple events, including softball, soccer and other events at TA. The bleachers will hold value to Thetford Academy’s community for years to come. I’ve learned that if you want to get something done you have to push to do it, you can’t expect it to just be done for you. I’ve also learned to become more independent and take on tasks by myself.

2019-2069 Time Capsule

By, Rebecca Wells   

    The capstone project I chose to do was a time capsule. At the beginning I didn’t know how I was going to complete this project. So I thought I would start with coming up with a theme. The theme I chose was Thetford Academies 200th year. Everything in the capsule has something to do with TA and how it is today in our 200th year. Most of the items have something to do with the bicentennial year but some of them just have something to do with Thetford Academy. After I chose my theme I thought of how I was going to make the time capsule itself and how I was going to make it handle the pressure from being underground for 50 years. I figured out that if I get the correct PVC pipe it will handle the time and pressure.

    The time capsule is going to help the school because it will show kids in the future a little glimpse of what it is like today. This time capsule will be opened in 2069, that is 50 years from now and I think that people in the future will enjoy opening this and taking each item out and finding out what it was like in 2019. By making this time capsule I have learned a lot more about my school. I have learned that making a time capsule is not as easy as it may seem because you have to figure out how to make the time capsule last. I am glad I chose to make a time capsule for my capstone.  

Sugar Wood Rack

By, Kolton Pittman

My name is Kolton Pittman and I built a wood rack for my capstone project. The rack will hold sugar wood for the evaporator  in the sugar shack. The wood rack should hold about one cord of wood.

The wood rack has four 4×4 posts in the corners and those posts hold the roof and the platform that the wood sits on. I used notches to to build the frame for the platform. The platform is made of  2X4s as supports and 1x2s for the wood to sit on. The roof was cut at a 30 degree slope. The whole thing is 8 feet long, 5 feet wide and about 6 feet tall.

I learned a lot doing this project. I got to build something that I think will be really useful to future students.  Most of the wood was left over from the construction of the sugar shack except for the plywood roof. Overall I had a fun time building the wood rack and it should last for many years to come.

My Two Signs!

By, Namya Benjamin

My capstone project was to make two signs for the new sugar shack. I didn’t choose the project the project chose me.

My first step was to make a plan and design the signs. I then went to the woodshed to find pine boards. I wanted my signs to be pine because I wanted them to blend in with the lumber used on the sugar shack. The next day I cut the pieces of wood and shaped them to the size I wanted them to be. To engrave the signs I used the CNC router. This machine is really cool and it’s amazing to see the design come to life. When the machine is working on the board it seems like it has a mind of its own. I then added stain to the signs. This project was really challenging but it made me think ahead and take charge.

It was cool to think for myself and come up with my own designs for the signs. I hope everyone likes them. I have learned that I need to plan in advance and I also learned how to work independently. The signs will benefit the school and community by telling  people that the building is a sugar shack, when it was built, and who built it. I definitely have many people to thank for helping me with this project. Without Emma, Becca and Mr. Schmidt I don’t think I would be as happy with my project as I am.



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