Exploring AP Capstone

New rigorous academic program is coming to West this January


Photo courtesy of College Board

AP Capstone is a two-year program that consists of AP Seminar and AP Research. The classes focus on researching current issues and providing a logical solution which students present through a written report and oral defense. “When it comes to applying for colleges, AP Capstone students will signify their participation in the program by clicking a box on their Common App,” AP Capstone coordinator and AP Research teacher Kara Radtke said. “For comparison purposes, it is the same box students in the IB program get to click on their applications.”

Kaden Roth, Catalyst Online Editor-in-Chief

Advanced Placement classes are nothing new to Millard students and staff, however, come January, they’ll be introduced to an innovative research program called AP Capstone. The program is a two-year process that starts with AP Seminar during a student’s junior year and ends with AP Research their senior year.

The origin of this program comes after Millard West’s School Improvement Team identified a need for an academic program that sets West apart from the other Millard schools. The team uncovered AP Capstone during their research phase and decided that it provided both the academic rigor and opportunity that could draw students to the school.

“Through our School Improvement Team, we identified a need for a special program to draw students to Millard West,” AP Capstone coordinator and AP Research teacher Kara Radtke said. “With Millard North having IB and Millard South having Early College, we were falling behind in increasing intra-district transfers for an academic program. Through the research phase, AP Capstone was discovered and decided to be the best option for our population.”

Implementing this program has been years in the making. In the fall of 2019, a group of teachers, counselors, and administrators took a field trip to Blue Valley High School in Kansas to observe the program in action. Both Capstone teachers were then able to talk with students and teachers about their experiences and opinions on the program. In preparation for the program to start up at West, Radtke and Mcenaney have spent the last two summers attending AP Summer Institutes via Zoom.

The courses themselves last for the duration of the school year with a focus on research, critical thinking, collaboration, time management, and presentation skills. According to the College Boards website, AP Seminar is a class that allows students to consider issues from various perspectives, identify credible sources, evaluate strengths and weaknesses of arguments and make logical evidence-based recommendations. Students are expected to investigate a variety of issues from various perspectives and complete both team and individual papers and presentations, the class is taught by Megan Mcenaney and begins in January.  AP Research takes the skills students gained from AP Seminar and applies them in an almost completely student-driven environment. Seminar students are able to pick the topic they’ll be researching for their paper and present it with an oral defense to obtain their AP score.

AP Capstone is a great opportunity for our students,” assistant principal and AP Coordinator Jennifer Allen said. They’re able to learn the process of research and essentially create a research paper that is commensurate with what students experience in their post-secondary education.”

The experience students gain from this program isn’t the only appealing aspect, students who complete the program are also able to signify that they participated in AP Capstone on their Common App. The reason this could appeal to potential students is that it’s the same box students who are in the IB program are able to put on their applications.

I chose to sign up for Ap Capstone because it seemed like a rare opportunity for my educational career,” junior Sania Azhar said. “I hope to gain an understanding of research and  hopefully a diploma by the end of this program.”

In order to enroll students are asked to fill out an application that includes a current transcript, a listing of skills, and teacher recommendations. Applications can be found on the AP Capstone Website and turned into room 100B by Dec. 9.