The Senior Thesis is the culminating research project in Bancroft’s academic program. This 10- to 15-page essay challenges students to choose a topic for research, discover relevant facts and opinions available in print and online, and synthesize their research to support a thesis statement, or guiding argument. The Senior Thesis provides students with two opportunities: to complete an interesting and personally relevant intellectual journey, and to prepare themselves for the challenges they will face in college.
With guidance from the School's librarians, students access the library's scholarly-level print and electronic resources, as well as the Worcester-area college libraries. English teachers spend one-on-one time with students throughout the research and writing process.
Each year the Upper School honors a few select students with a Senior Thesis Award. Finalists from the past three years are presented below.
AP English Literature Period 7
16 March 2018
Preying on the Vulnerable: How Great Britain Deported Thousands of Orphans to Australia and Nobody Knew
Between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, the British gosvernment deported an estimated 180,000 disadvantaged English children, distributing them among their colonies (Gill 85). While the practice of forced child migration first began in 1618, when 100 “vagrant” children were shipped from London to the Virginia Colony, it was not officially legalized until 1620, when the London Privy Council confirmed that the City had the authority to transport such children “against their will” (“Child Migration: An Overview and Timeline”). Throughout the years the programme continued, child migration not only offered British authorities an opportunity to clear their streets and orphanages of homeless children, but also provided an effective method to maintain a British – and white – influence around the world. During the following centuries poor, orphaned British children were spread across the empire, as they were sent to Canada, The Bahamas, New Zealand, Rhodesia, South Africa and, most recently, Australia.
AP English/ Period 7
16 March 2018
Injustice on an International Scale
As a response to the Nazi’s actions in World War II, an International Military Tribunal was held in 1946, consisting of judges from the U.S, Great Britain, France, and the U.S.S.R. These judges declared that "to initiate a war of aggression is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole" ("Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Volume 22"). While the declaration was issued in response to the Nazi’s actions, this statement about war of aggression could be applied to many modern conflicts. Often as Americans, we think about wars of aggression as a distant concept, but they are a lot closer than we believe; in fact, the United States has been the perpetrator in recent wars of aggression. By arming and equipping rebels, intervening in the peaceful affairs of another state, and leading a coalition force against other countries, the United States has used force against other nations repeatedly. Even though every use of force was different, each qualifies as an act of aggression under U.N. resolution 3314 (“UN Resolution 3314”).
AP English Literature/Period 7
16 March 2018
Language, Reality, and a Woman’s Place in the Literature of Clarice Lispector
A woman eats a cockroach. An explorer searches for the smallest woman on Earth. A stranger chewing gum spurs a woman’s existential crisis. Such varied, sometimes bizarre, subjects take on mystical, philosophical significance in the work of Clarice Lispector, one of the most important writers of the twentieth-century.
Born Jewish in the Ukraine, Lispector was forced to flee with her family during a period of pogroms in the 1920s and arrived in Brazil when she was two months old. She grew up there, attending law school—rare for a woman at that time—and worked as a journalist early in her career before turning to literature. She married a diplomat, with whom she had two sons, but, after fifteen years of living abroad with her family in Italy, Switzerland, the United States, and England, she left her husband to return to Brazil, where she stayed until her death.
16 March 2018
Henrietta Lacks’ Lasting Legacy:
From Cell Biology to Bioethics and Beyond
Something was growing inside her. She could feel it with every step that she took. And now, at the only place where a person of her color could go, Henrietta was in need of help and, hopefully, a cure. As a young white nurse called her name from the colored-only waiting room, she slowly stood up and followed the nurse cautiously toward the exam room. A sea of dark eyes looked up and seemed to acknowledge her pain. As she laid gingerly on the cold, wooden table, the assistant handed her a white paper filled with words she could not understand. Reassuringly, the nurse asked her to sign. With only six years of schooling behind her, she could barely discern the complex vocabulary typed finely on the page. Feeling pressured and unsure, she scrawled her name hastily on the black line, never realizing the significance of her action.
16 March, 2018
Public Secrets: Digital Privacy in the Age of the Internet of Things
It’s a normal weekend morning. You are woken by your Amazon Echo digital assistant and roll over to check your smartphone. An alert pops up, reminding you to pick up groceries today and providing you with a grocery list. As you get out of bed the programmable thermostat has already warmed the house up to a comfortable temperature, according to your weekend schedule. As you drive to the market, the GPS in your car warns you of traffic ahead and suggests an alternative route. At the store, you pay with your rewards card to avoid the much higher “regular” prices without one. On your way home, you stop by a convenience store to buy a pack of cigarettes, paying with your credit card. You listen to Spotify in the car and look forward to watching the TV show that your Tivo recorded for you last night.
What you may or may not realize is that there is now enough information available online to reconstruct everything that you have done in that day. Your digital assistant knows what time you got up. Your smartphone knows who you contacted and what you said. Your car knows when you left and where you went.