Presenting their skills

AP Capstone students’ hard work manifests into a unique form of AP testing


Photo by Brenna Batchelder

AP Seminar works especially hard throughout their semester to ensure that their AP Test, including a presentation and a written exam, goes well. With the completion of their presentation, they have their written AP exam left. “Our teacher taught us how to format and build our presentations, but in the actual process of researching and presenting, she couldn’t help us very much at all,” Junior Elsa Covi said. “Our team multimedia presentations and individual multimedia presentations were part of the AP exams, so she wasn’t allowed to give us many pointers and it was important to depend upon classmates.”

Brenna Batchelder, Arts & Entertainment Editor, Cartoonist

As exam and final season rolls around, AP Seminar classes have taken an alternative route to typical pen-and-paper exams. April 27 was filled with students’ presentations as they showcased their research questions and solutions to their classmates, their teachers and the College Board.

These students participate in Millard West’s AP Capstone program, which provides a new pathway for students seeking academic rigor. In the first class of the two-year program, AP Seminar, students are expected to formulate a nuanced research topic and defend it through a culmination of written essays and a presentation. After selecting their topic, this group of juniors explored their issue within a written essay which prepared them for their performance task.

“They are assessed on their ability to establish context for their research question, provide a realistic and debatable conclusion or resolution using different perspectives and research evidence, and then deliver their presentation,” McEnaney said. “They then answered two oral defense questions related to their research process and their main argument. It was amazing to see their work through this process over the last five weeks.”

This approach to testing allowed students to put passion into the work they completed while widening their worldview through their exploration of perspectives and extensive research. 

“I developed a wide variety of skills in the research process that will help me succeed in college,” junior Griffin Carroll said. “A few were analyzing sources, structuring an argument, looking from multiple perspectives, peer-reviewing others and providing adequate citations for sources. In terms of arguing, I figured out how to appeal to the audience more effectively and write my paper with a line of reasoning that made sense. By looking from multiple perspectives, I was able to see the many views on my issue and include counter-arguments to my view in addition to responding to those counterarguments.”

As students faced the task of these presentations, they strengthened their abilities as a student and completed the performance task of their specialized AP test for a program. As a class, they look forward to the second part of AP Capstone in their senior year. 

“I’m proud of what I was able to do,” junior Matthew Houlian said. “I think I made something different, especially with my presentation. Everyone is always bouncing ideas off each other, and there’s this really strong sense of community here.” 

Though the program is newer,  the student’s dedication to their work will be reflected in their score which will be given in July. 

“It was amazing to watch students do their own research,” Mcenaney said. “They became so invested in the research process and it was obvious when they presented that they were confident in their argument. It was incredible to see the evolution of their research question in their final presentation.”

The students who are part of the AP Capstone will prepare for their senior year in AP Research, an extension of AP Seminar that is almost completely student-driven. The skills they nurtured throughout AP Seminar will be further developed as they approach their senior years.