Athens Academy Celebrates Inaugural Capstone Cohort

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Wednesday, May 15th, 2024

On Thursday, May 9, 2024, 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 glimpse
into their work over the past two years (cohort members Walter Hequembourg and Margalit Mauricio
were unable to attend because they were competing in the 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,” while 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.” 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,”
while 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!

Pictured, left to right: Tara Dolan, Neela Sudhagar, Nikki Chester, Kate Towery, Allison Turney, Elizabeth
Raeber, Anvesha Das, George Barkley (not pictured: Walter Hequembourg and Margalit Mauricio).
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 57

th 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 (
For more information, please contact Kelley Cuneo, communications director, at
[email protected] or 706-433-2410.