AP Capstone comes to PHS

By Connie Nolen / Community columnist

“Wait, I can choose what I want to study and earn a full quality point addition for both classes?” one sophomore asked at Pelham High School’s Curriculum Night as we discussed the AP Capstone program.

Yes, absolutely. Both classes that comprise AP Capstone, AP Seminar and AP Research, are College Board AP classes. Each class earns a full quality point addition. What’s really exciting about AP Seminar is that nationally, with the exception of AP Art, more students earn a qualifying score on AP Seminar than for any other AP class.

“I think the best part is how valuable these research skills will be for kids heading to college,” a dad volunteered.

Sharing both AP Capstone courses—AP Seminar and AP Research—with my younger daughter and my son, a college sophomore and a 3rd year law student, along with their friends convinced me. These current students said that collaboration, researching outside sources, writing longer papers and polishing presentation skills—using the framework of the AP Capstone program—would be a huge advantage in college—and in law school.

In fact, the PHS Law Academy ending abruptly led to AP Capstone. When one Law Academy teacher left for another school and one went into administration, we suddenly had twenty to forty students looking for classes to replace the program. In June 2018, Principal Amanda Wilbanks and Junior/Senior Counselor Brooke Self asked if I would develop an elective suitable for former Law Academy students.

Knowing AP Language teachers who shifted to teaching AP Capstone courses, I immediately wrote PCS course descriptions for AP Seminar and AP Research. AP Capstone requires high schools to submit a fall application allowing for College Board evaluation so PHS had to wait—and apply for AP Capstone.

After filing the required application in November, we received a congratulatory email stating that PHS joins the ranks of only twelve of Alabama’s best high schools as an AP Capstone school. For more information about AP Capstone’s first course, AP Seminar, contact cnolen@pelhamcityschools.org or visit https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/apcourse/ap-seminar for a course overview.