A New Addition to the AP Course List

AP Seminar is the newest course offering at OHS

This year a new class with a focus on the fundamental skills needed by college students has been added to the growing list of Advanced Placement classes: AP Seminar. It is currently a class only offered during first period with Spanish and AVID teacher, Mr. Erick Garcia. This first period class however, is just one in the AP Capstone program. The AP Capstone program is comprised of two classes taken over the course of two years, starting with AP Seminar and ending with AP Research.


The students in the class are expected to master critical reading, selective reading, research, and writing skills – the fundamentals of academic work. Each student has the freedom and opportunity to research and write their own college-level paper on whichever academic topic they’re passionate about. The students work on a total of three academic papers throughout the year. The second paper is the result of research and collaboration by a team of 3-5 members. The third and final paper is done by the individual student alone. The papers graded by the College Board must be solely the work of the student(s).


It’s the first time it’s being taught and because of the independence and responsibility given to the student, the curriculum will constantly change and adapt to what seems to be the most helpful. The class explores a set of skills that not many high school students get to work in depth with. Mr. Garcia said, “This AP class is unique and different than all the other AP classes in the sense that the students decide what they want to focus on and research, they will produce their own original work and submit it.”


If you pass the AP Test for both classes as well as the research and presentations, you will get the AP Capstone certificate which is an accolade one can put on college applications, scholarships, and personal statements. The AP Capstone Diploma is a separate accolade that is more prestigious, but requires that you pass additional AP tests. Some colleges give students scholarships along with their admission because they’ve passed the class and shown their proficiency in the skills being taught. However, students that don’t pass the test will still have gained valuable experience with a challenging skill and understand what they will have to do when they go to college.


Getting the class to be offered at the school required collaboration between several teachers and faculty who wanted to seize the opportunity to give students a class providing skills and experience that they can carry throughout the rest of their lives. Mr. Garcia enlisted the help of Mrs. Brickey, Mrs. Phillippe, and Mr. Borneman to achieve this goal.


Mrs. Brickey plans to teach the class the skills and methods needed to ask the right questions, find the right answers, and get to the heart of what they’re researching. Regarding her vision of the class and future of the students, she said, “If students can be in the class and leave being comfortable, then I’ve done my job. I want them to learn about themselves, be more aware of how they learn and what works best for them so that when they do go on their own, they have their own strategies of being successful and knowing how their brain works.” She added, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, take risks, and reflect on yourself.”


The teachers and faculty involved hope that AP Capstone will continue to improve and stay on campus, teaching valuable skills that high school students rarely have the chance to develop and demonstrate.