AP Capstone Program teaches valuable skills

By+Allie+Nichols

By Allie Nichols

Allie Nichols, Layout/Design Manager

Advanced Placement Capstone is a two year program offered at WSHS. The first year is “Seminar,” and the second year is called “Research.” English teachers Mr. Parker and Mrs. Gaskill instruct the program and alternate between teaching Seminar and Research meaning they move up with their students after they finish the first year. They said the program is all about “skills for college” and “fostering student curiosity.”

Expounding on his statement, Mr. Parker said, AP Capstone integrates “skills used in a student’s undergraduate college experience. They study a variety of real-world topics, learning how to do academic research, create academic papers, conduct experiments/studies, perform presentations, and a variety of other competencies. ” He continued on to recall a former student’s description of the class: “what education should be” because it’s a class of discussion pertinent and relevant to everyone. 

Mrs. Gaskill mentioned that this program gives students the opportunity to earn an AP Capstone diploma in addition to the standard high school diploma. In order to do so, students must complete and pass at least four other AP classes and the exams. The goal of Seminar and Research is to “sharpen analytical and rhetorical skills” as well as “teach essential research skills that are not fully developed in other courses.” Seminar is available to any sophomores or juniors, and Research is for anyone who wishes to continue their Capstone journey. 

This class is very different from any other one at WSHS. According to Mr. Parker, “The scope of what students complete in this program is beyond any other; they are conducting their own experiments/studies of their own interests and contributing to a growing body of research.” Students have done a wide variety of studies, from the effects of VR and distractions to acid rain and tomatoes to political orientation and personality. 

In year one of the program, according to Mrs. Gaskill, students will learn to “consider an issue from multiple perspectives… evaluate strengths and weaknesses of arguments, and make logical, evidence based arguments.” Year two consists of an independent research project that can be about any subject of a student’s choosing. In previous years, students have thought about music’s influence on learning, fantasy football teams, the Space Industry, and so many more real-world inquiries. Overall, the class is like no other and offers many applicable skills.