How do you sum up four years’ worth of growth and experiences? At De Smet Jesuit, every senior prepares and presents an Insignis project to articulate his personal journey as a Spartan.
The framework for Insignis is the six elements of the Jesuits’ Graduate at Graduation Profile: open to growth, intellectually competent, religious, loving, committed to justice, and developing as a leader. “For many of students, the thought of mining back into the past four years to find connections and track growth is daunting,” explained Howard Place, theology teacher and Insignis coordinator. “As those same students are presenting their Insignis and completing their reflections, many comment on how worthwhile the endeavor was for them. It requires some work, but seniors really appreciate the opportunity to look back reflectively and present the ups and downs of their story.”
Every senior present his Insignis project before a panel of three, composed of two teachers and a staff member. And every year, faculty and staff panelists are touched by the students’ candor and impressed by their creativity.
Robots Represent Growth
Thomas Schuster, a DURT Robotics team captain, used a series of four robots, representing more basic to more complex designs and constructed with varying materials, to symbolize his growth from freshman to senior year. “When I talked about an experience, I stood behind the robot that represented the year that it happened, or when I talked about a change in my life over the years I would relate it to a change in the robots,” he explained. For example, the robot representing Thomas’ junior year had no wheels, to represent a time when he struggled to find his footing regarding future goals. The senior year robot was the most complex, representing Thomas’ increasing confidence about his future plans.
Experiences Transformed into Music
Andrew Veach created a musical composition, titled “Zenith,” based on his experiences on Kairos retreats. “The word zenith has very similar meaning to Kairos,” he explained. “Kairos means ‘the moment of action,’ while Zenith means ‘the time when something is most important’." Andrew’s six-minute composition can be broken into four parts:
· Beginning (0:00-2:24) - A solo piano melody represents the time before Kairos.
· Part 2 (2:24-3:56) - A piano melody met with string accompaniment represents the experience of being at Karios.
· Part 3 (3:56-5:08) - Lush string chords that turn into short repeating phrases matching the piano, with the addition of a choir, represent the actions I took after my new knowledge learned from the experience.
· Conclusion (5:08-6:17) – The same piano melody used in the first two sections with string accompaniment in a new key that is major, instead of minor like the previous sections, represents where I am today, after Kairos.
The Cologne Pyramid
“My collection of colognes is something unique about me, and I knew that the scent of colognes changes over time, so I researched how this works as a starting point for my Insignis presentation,” said Jack Miromonti. Using his favorite cologne, Mont Blanc Legend, Jack related his personal growth to the varying levels of cologne scent: initial, open notes lasting only a few minutes (what he came to De Smet with); heart notes, lasting longer and representing increasing maturity as an upperclassman; and finally, base notes, the scent that comes the latest but stays the longest. “I said that the Grad at Grad characteristics that I possessed to the strongest degree at the end of my four years were my base notes,” Jack explained.
The Breakout Box
Ethan Becher used an original prototype of a “breakout box” that he created for his Eagle Scout project. The breakout box, constructed from Baltic Birch plywood, is a multifunctional classroom tool that challenges users to solve individual locks in order to “complete” and open the box. It can be configured in multiple ways to serve a variety of purposes. For the Insignis project, “I used the box in collaboration with a hasp that holds six locks on it, with each lock being a different handle of the Grad at Grad,” Ethan said.