Viera High students praise prestigious AP Capstone program


Members of Viera High's AP Capstone program will find out in July if they will receive an AP Capstone Diploma.

photo by Carl Kotala

A group of Viera High students are about to become the first from the school to receive an AP Capstone diploma.

How many won’t be known until the AP scores are revealed in July, but 45 Viera students took part in the two-year program that required them to take two specific advanced placement classes along with four other AP courses of their choosing.

“This program is multi-curricular,” said Kate Howick, who teaches AP Capstone at Viera along with Gary Draves.

“They do research. They problem solve with each other. It teaches them valuable skills that they’re going to need in their undergraduate studies and, eventually, their graduate studies.”

The first phase of the program, taken in a student’s junior year, is called AP Seminar, which senior Parth Turakhia described as, “you have individual presentations and you have an AP test where you’re analyzing documents and reviewing them for credibility and things like that.”

From there, it’s on to AP seminar, which Viera senior Leshea Reddick explained is basically taking things to another level.

“In AP Research, based off the skills we learned in Seminar, we find a topic that interests us and create a question within that topic to add to the body and knowledge (of the subject),” Reddick said.

“We learn other research skills, different ways of citing resources, and getting deeper into looking into different data bases and actually talking to experts in our fields.”

Instead of a final exam, the students must give a 15- to 20-minute speech to a college board about their project.

Howick noted that by the end of the year, the students had such a depth of knowledge about their subject, a 15-minute speech didn’t seem daunting. It seemed like a short amount of time.

Still, knowing your presentation will decide whether you will get your AP Capstone diploma can create nervousness.

“You’re technically presenting to college boards, to professionals, and you get asked questions about your topic,” said Turakhia, whose topic was on the viability and feasibility of bioprinted organs in lieu of using transplanted organs for surgery since there’s an organ shortage.

“It’s nerve-racking at the beginning, but AP Capstone teaches you how to deal with that, how to be professional about it. It’s a good skill to have.” 

Turakhia and Reddick both lauded the benefits of the AP Capstone program, which was introduced nationally in 2014.

“AP Capstone is not like any other course that you’ll take in high school,” Turakhia said. “Although there are high school classes that have structure — there’s this material you have to cover — AP Capstone lets you choose what you want to do and ride with it.

“So you’re learning more about something you already love.” 

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