New But Vital – The AP Capstone Program at Dublin High School

For the 2017-2018 school year, Dublin High School introduced a new course, and with it, a new program, to the school’s ever-expanding curriculum. AP Capstone, a program that includes two foundational courses taken one after the other–AP Seminar and AP Research–is intended to encourage the spirit of research and collaborative teamwork by helping students develop vital skills that are applicable across subject areas. Over the course of the year, students develop and build on their reading, writing, and analyzing skills through AP Capstone’s QUEST framework, which encourages questioning and exploring complex issues, understanding and analyzing different perspectives, evaluating and synthesizing them, and transmitting these ideas to a wider audience after discussing them in a team.


“AP Seminar truly provided me with the tools I needed to enhance my writing and prepared me with relevant skills I need for college,” said junior Theresa Bostic, who is currently taking the class.



While developing crucial skills, the classes also prepare students for their respective AP exams in May, which are somewhat unconventional in that they are not entirely exam-based, but also include reports and essays written over the school year. AP Seminar’s exam score consists of a team project and presentation in which students write individualized research reports and deliver a presentation about their findings, as well as an individual research project with an argumentative essay and presentation. In May, students take a two-hour exam in which they must answer three short-answer questions and one essay question. AP Research, which will be offered at Dublin High School for the first time next year to students who have completed the prerequisite of AP Seminar, requires students to conduct their own research investigations, write an academic paper, and present their findings.


“Writing the individual research report in AP Seminar improved my organization and prioritization in writing, helping me decide which facts were important to my argument and which were not,” said junior Katherine Auer, when asked about the class.


Although the AP Capstone program is extremely popular in high schools across the nation, at Dublin High School, it is still a growing program that will hopefully be more in the limelight as its importance is more widely understood and it becomes more well-known.


During Dublin High School’s new Class Preview Day, I asked Mr. Michael Ruegg, AP Seminar’s current teacher, a few questions about what potential students can expect from the class.



How and why is AP Capstone relevant to students today?

The program focuses on preparing students for college-level research, writing, and presenting. Students self-select topics and produce work any university would be happy to accept. This is a program dedicated to preparing students for the rigors of the postsecondary world. It is incredibly relevant to the college-bound student, and the student who wants to learn more about the world they inhabit.


What would you tell prospective students about the class – what do they need to know before they take the class or consider taking it?

Students who are strong readers and writers will have an easier time acclimating to the work product expectations in the class.


What is the summer homework for both AP Seminar and AP Research, and the average work that you feel students need to be prepared for if they take the class?

The summer homework is variable, but generally involves reading a number of articles. Nightly homework time is too difficult to average. It depends on how fast you read while maintaining accuracy. Some weeks are very light. Other weeks involve quite a bit of reading and writing.


Starting from the 2018-2019 school year, AP Seminar and AP Research will only be offered to students in their sophomore, junior, and senior years respectively.


“AP Seminar is definitely a class that is worth taking,” said junior Dishaa Ramesh. “It is conducted just like a college class, where students have to take responsibility for their own work and get it done within the deadlines. You learn to be disciplined in your work and because you get to choose what you learn about, it’s never boring or uninteresting! I can’t wait to see what AP Research holds in store for us!”


As Mr. Ruegg summarized, “Challenge yourself and learn about your world. Learn about what interests you. Learn what college is expecting.”