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AP Capstone Comes to Dominion Next Year

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AP Capstone Comes to Dominion Next Year

Students can seek help for their AP classes during lunch in the back of room 503.

Students can seek help for their AP classes during lunch in the back of room 503.

DHS Press Staff

Students can seek help for their AP classes during lunch in the back of room 503.

DHS Press Staff

DHS Press Staff

Students can seek help for their AP classes during lunch in the back of room 503.

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Unbeknownst to most students and some faculty, there will be a new AP option available for the school year of 2019-2020. AP Capstone is a two-year course, made up of AP Seminar and AP Research, taught by two prospective teachers, that offers students a chance to get a unique real-life experience by performing research in a way akin to that of the world beyond their high school education.

According to the College Board website, AP Capstone has been introduced to over 1,000 high schools nationwide, including six in Loudoun County: Broad Run, Park View, Potomac Falls, Riverside, Tuscarora, and John Champe.

The first year you must take AP seminar, then when a student passes the seminar exam they have the option to take AP research. Capstone has multiple incentives like college credit and a separate diploma. To achieve the AP Capstone Diploma, a student must pass 4 different AP examines along with passing the AP research and seminar courses. Students do not have to take the 2nd year of the course.

The first year of the elective is the Seminar course where you’ll be doing team projects and presentations on a topic that you’ve chosen at the beginning of the year. The second part of the elective is the Research course where you’ll be doing an academic research paper, more presentations, and an oral defense.

“It’s really going to be something geared toward student interests,” remarked science department chair Brad George. It allows those who don’t have a passion toward one specific class or topic the opportunity to discover their interests through extensive examination of many subjects throughout the class.

Dr. Brewer said, ¨It’s a class that helps you define your own life of significance as a student, you get a little more choice of what you study and what you pursue.” 

The first year of the elective is the Seminar course where you’ll be doing team projects and presentations on a topic that you’ve chosen at the beginning of the year. The second part of the elective is the Research course where you’ll be doing an academic research paper, more presentations, and an oral defense.

As of yet, there are no teachers recommended for the position, though in the near future there will be at least two educators chosen to teach AP Capstone. While it is expected that the class will be more individually driven, teachers are expected to offer assistance in their field of specialty after attending a 5-day course teaching them the specifics of what the class entails.

“I have an expectation that they are going to be really dynamic, engaging members of our staff,” explained Dr. Brewer as he described the most crucial part of maintaining students interest for two years.

Shelli Glynn, the English department chair, said, “Dr. Brewer had indicated he was gathering information from all departments, and basically looking for two instructors to just really take ownership of the situation.”

For the students who would be unsure of their ability to succeed in this class, Dr. Brewer outlined the qualities valued for the best understanding of the curriculum, “I think it’s best for independently driven students who don’t mind working with a curriculum that doesn’t have a strict right answer,” after explaining how the ability to understand different points of view would be imperative for any students considering AP Capstone.

There are some concerns regarding the effects of this class on students. As pupils have certain interests, they take electives to enjoy the school day and learn useful skills that aren’t necessarily academically oriented. “I would hate for them to have to give up something they are passionate about whether it’s music, or art, or business,” said the Fine Arts Department Chair My-Van Nguyen about the scheduling conflicts that can result from one block only or singleton classes, that are often newly introduced like AP Capstone.

History department chair Mr. Hicks said, “I’m always about giving kids more options, I think there is a possible negative downside. I’m afraid that kids will just take the class so they can have another AP class on their transcript. I’m really about having well rounded kids. You may miss an opportunity to take band, choir, accounting, or doing something at Monroe, that I think are just as valuable.”

As for all Advanced Placement classes at Dominion, there is help offered by the AP Support Center, a group of student tutors who have excelled in these classes and are willing to offer their services to others. ”I would anticipate that when we offer this course that materials and things would be supplied to the AP support center,” Mr. George said.

Ms. Nguyen said, “Anytime we add another AP course I always want to sort of remind students to think about their stress levels, their work life balance and their mental health. It’s important to have academic rigor but it’s also important to pursue your passions.”

“So my fear is that kids will be just like ‘got to get another AP class because that’s what UVA wants’. So I think that’s a little scary,” Hicks said.

 

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AP Capstone Comes to Dominion Next Year