New AP Research course opens for next year


Lilianna Gittoes

Cindy Shusterman supervises her AP Seminar class currently engaged in group work.

Andrew Shao, Staff Writer

The new AP Capstone diploma program will enter its second year at Carlmont and begin its second successive course, AP Research, for the first time ever in the next 2019–2020 school year.

AP Capstone’s two college-preparatory elective courses teach students key skills in group and individual work, research methods and practices, and guides them through personal and group research projects similar to the production of scholarly academic papers.

Carlmont’s first-ever group of 29 students in the program are currently studying its first course, AP Seminar. Many plan to complete it and register for the next course, AP Research, next year.

Carlmont is the first school in the Sequoia Union High School District to offer the AP Capstone program.

There’s a place for you in this class if you have a passion.”

— Cindy Shusterman

Two factors make AP Capstone uncommon, in curriculum and in schools.

The first of their kind, AP Seminar and AP Research are unique, skill-based courses created by College Board, a contrast to other traditionally subject content-based AP classes.

And unfamiliar to not just Carlmont, College Board’s AP Capstone program was first introduced in the 2014–2015 school year. A select listing of schools across U.S. states and other nations make up the over 1,500 total schools around the world approved to or currently offering the program.

Students have chances to earn two related AP Scholar Awards, the AP Seminar and Research Certificate for completing the two-course program, and the AP Capstone Diploma for completing the program and passing four additional AP exams.

Carlmont English teacher Cindy Shusterman came to teach this year’s AP Seminar after hearing about the opportunity in an email from English Department Chair Justin Raisner.

Shusterman said, “I was drawn to it, it allows students the freedom to study what they’re passionate about.”

Both courses will feature lengthy individual research projects on fields and topics students decide, giving them a place to pursue whatever passions and interests they have in school. Any subject can be brought into the work and research, allowing this year’s AP Seminar students to study a wide range of academic and non-academic fields in an academic environment, from scientific matters to popular culture.

“There’s a place for you in this class if you have a passion,” Shusterman said.

According to Shusterman, the courses build the essential skills instrumental in college, emphasizing collaboration and presentation ability in addition to mastery in research, and its coursework even closely simulates college theses.

“I think, arriving freshman year in college, this program will put you a year ahead of your peers,” Shusterman said.

Carlmont junior and AP Seminar student Lilianna Gittoes does not regret her decision last year to register for the class.

“It’s very interdisciplinary, it can relate and extend into my other classes and interests,” Gittoes said. “The type of writing you do is very different than in English, you’re writing research papers, not argumentative essays. I do not think I would’ve learned a lot of these skills in other classes, like English or history.”

Kenny Lee, a sophomore, was interested in AP Seminar and its focus on research but opted to stick to subject-based courses.

“It piqued my interest, and I have wanted to work on my research and presentation skills,” Lee said. “I ended up choosing other classes and AP courses, like AP Statistics, that were more interesting to me and seemed more helpful towards career preparation.”

Seniors may be accepted into the AP Seminar course if availability exists, but priority will be given to applying junior students.

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