In April, a group of St Luke’s seniors demonstrated their ability to showcase their mastery level research and presentation skills during the annual St. Luke’s Scholars Symposium.

Four of this year’s senior scholars are Ridgefield residents: Kayleigh Bowler, Peter Gutstein, Laura Mercedes, and Ruth Mercedes. Global Scholar Kayleigh Bowler’s topic of research was: The Effects of Microfinance on Communities in Developing Nations. Peter Gutstein, a STEM Scholar, focused on: Applying Machine Learning to Wildlife Conservation: Using a Neural Network to Identify White-Tailed Deer on Trail Camera Images. Global Scholar Laura Mercedes worked on: In Fear of Memory: The Compatibility of Genocide Denial and Nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe. Ruth Mercedes, a Global Scholar, researched: Enter the Dragon: China’s Strategic Use of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Scholars Program and Symposium, run by Director of Studies Jim Yavenditti, offer students a chance to propose and execute a yearlong, deep-dive research project on a compelling topic. There are three categories of Scholars: Global, Classical and STEM. This year’s topics included The Effects of Microfinance on Communities in Developing Nations (Global); Historicity in Latin Literature: Comparing Two Accounts of the Roman Civil War (Classical); and Data-Driven Discovery of Effective Marketing Hashtags (STEM).

“These presentations are an example of what happens when committed students engage their passions in a year of research, guided by incredible teachers,” said St. Luke’s Head of School Mark Davis. “Several times, I forgot I was listening to high school students — it’s more akin to watching a PhD candidate present a doctoral dissertation. The level of knowledge and the sophistication of the presenters...truly astounding.”