Hayes prepares to add new AP English course


Olivia O'Rourke

AP Capstone is a new program launching at Hayes next year, and includes two courses: AP Seminar and AP Research.

Olivia O'Rourke, Managing Editor

The 2023-24 scheduling season is here, and with a new school year comes new classes. One course making its debut at Hayes next year is the AP Capstone program.
AP Capstone is one of the newest Advanced Placement courses offered by the College Board. The course consists of two research based English classes taken over the span of two years.
In the first year, students will take AP Seminar.
“It’s basically focused on cross curricular work, and looking at how to analyze really complex academic topics and complex real world topics, looking at a lot of divergent perspectives on those topics, and then synthesizing that information, creating research topics from it, and creating research that adds to the conversation about those topics,” English teacher Julieanne McClain said.
In the second year, after completing AP Seminar, students will take AP Research.
“AP Research is a class that is primarily focused on independent research,” McClain said. “Students are going to take the research skills that they learned in Seminar and they’re going to utilize those skills to really deeply explore an academic topic. They will be creating a research question and then conducting independent research in order to produce and defend college level academic work surrounding their topic.”
While the classes are considered English courses, they vastly differ from the two AP English courses that are currently offered at Hayes, as they aren’t structured around language and literature in the way that a typical English class would be. This concept piqued the interest of some educators and administrators in DCS.
“The reality is we’ve been waiting for three years [to implement AP Capstone],” Principal Ric Stranges said. “We didn’t really have a good research course that our students can get credit and college credit for, so we were ready to put in place before COVID-19.”
The pandemic derailed any opportunity that there would have been to add a new course to Hayes in 2020, so the addition was held off.
“We felt like the time was right next year,” Stranges said. “We haven’t had a new course in English for a while.”
The implementation of this course opens the door for students who may not typically be open to taking an AP English course to have a less traditional way of earning an English credit.
“Even though it’s hanging in the English department, it can be a wide variety of options for students,” Stranges said. “So if they’re really interested in American history, they can do their research there. If they’re really really interested in science, they can do the research there.”
McClain will be teaching AP Seminar next fall, and said what initially drew her to the course was its diversity.
“As a journalism teacher, I’m always looking for a good next step for my students,” she said. “A lot of my students take journalism sophomore year, and then they don’t really want to go back to reading novels and fiction and things like that. I really liked this option because I think it gives not just the journalism kids, but a lot of our advanced science and math students, a good opportunity to take an AP class that is relevant to them and relevant to their future fields.”
The course is similar to what students will experience in college in the sense that it is mainly focused on college level research and presentation, something that has grabbed the attention of many students at Hayes.
“I’m interested in the college experience that you get with this AP Capstone program,” sophomore Addie Reed said, via an email interview. “I’m excited to see how the curriculum changes from a high school English class to a college English class.”
AP Seminar and AP Research are a part of the AP Capstone Diploma Program. Students who take and pass the exams for both classes, as well as four other AP classes, will earn an AP Capstone diploma.
“I know the program itself was created in partnership with most of the Ivy League and a lot of other really pretty prestigious schools,” McClain said. “It seems like colleges are on board with this being a really good program that they want students from.”
This aspect of the program is a great opportunity for students to show colleges what they are capable of achieving.
“I’m considering taking the AP Capstone class because of the opportunities that come with the Capstone diploma,” Reed said. “Not only does it show on college applications that I am ready for college classes, but it also gives me a chance to experience what a college class will be like.”
AP Seminar will be available for juniors and seniors at Hayes to take during the 2023-24 school year. AP research will become available for seniors the following year, when the first class from Hayes to complete the program will graduate and have the opportunity to earn their Capstone diploma.
“[AP Capstone] allows students who are taking a lot of AP classes to get recognition for the classes that they’re taking,” McClain said. “It’s a sign of accomplishment.”