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Program prepares students for college success


AP Capstone program prepares Forestview students for college success

Two years ago, Forestview High School added a series of classes to its Advanced Placement (AP) offerings that are preparing this year’s high school graduates for college success.

Forestview is the only high school in the area to offer the AP Capstone program, a challenging two-year experience that is designed by the College Board.  It’s part of the school’s Collegiate Prep Academy, one of the 21 school choice programs offered by Gaston County Schools.  The purpose is to educate students in preparation for the independent research and collaborative projects that are common in college-level courses. The program includes AP Seminar and AP Research classes.

"In just two years, 15 students have earned an AP Capstone diploma, and four have earned an AP Capstone certificate,” said principal Crystal Houser.  “It has been exciting to see our Collegiate Prep Academy grow and give students the perspective they need to be successful in life after high school graduation.” 

In AP Seminar, juniors have two tasks. “Students learn and refine necessary research and presentation skills in the first semester,” explained teacher Kami McKay. “In the second semester, students write two research papers and complete two presentations (one being with a team or other individual) as part of the AP College Board exam.”

Fourteen juniors are currently enrolled in the AP Seminar class. For Savannah McLemore, a new student at the Collegiate Prep Academy, she could not be more excited to have the opportunity. 

“The AP Capstone program has opened a lot of doors for me that I would not have found anywhere else,” said McLemore, who researched the Collegiate Prep Academy when her family moved to Gastonia from Virginia. “In a short time, AP Seminar has improved my presentation and research skills, and I hope by completing the AP Capstone program that it will help me achieve my dream of becoming a successful lawyer.”

“Through the AP Research class, students learn how to design, plan, and conduct a year-long mentored, research-based investigation,” said Collegiate Prep Academy lead teacher Genevieve Comer. “Additionally, students apply research methods and practices to address a real-world topic selected by the student, write a college-level research paper, and present and defend research findings and methodology.”

Senior Susan Christy wanted additional rigorous classes and enrolled at the Collegiate Prep Academy after spending two years at another school. 

“I took a few AP classes, but nothing to the extent of the AP Seminar at Forestview,” said Christy, who is currently researching Crayola’s brand inclusivity and its effect on children.  “That class was hard, but I never learned so much in one year from writing papers, to writing an annotated bibliography, and speaking in front of my peers.”

Susan’s dad said the program has had a positive impact on her not only as a student, but also as a person. “It is amazing how much Susan has grown because of this program,” said Sheldon Christy.  “The Collegiate Prep Academy has given her so much confidence from her school work to her social life, and it has also taught her a process that she knows she can use when an issue arises.”

For Chad Barnes, the biggest advantage is the college-level prep his son has received while in high school.  “The Collegiate Prep Academy is getting William ready for college,” said Barnes, who was one of the parents to listen to the students present their independent research projects during the school’s AP Research Gallery Showcase on January 27.  “They are getting the learnings and teachings you don’t normally get until you’re in college. I am amazed at how much further along and how smart these students are.”

This year, Forestview has 11 students who are eligible to earn an AP Capstone certificate from the College Board, which indicates they have successfully completed and passed AP Seminar and AP Research. Of those 11 students, 10 are also eligible to earn the AP Capstone diploma, which is awarded to those who have taken and passed the College Board’s exams for AP Seminar, AP Research, and four or more AP subject area classes. Because scores for AP exams are not confirmed until late June, the students are recognized at graduation as certificate and diploma candidates.

To prepare students for AP Seminar and AP Research, ninth graders take Honors Research Methods.  In the class, students are expected to plan, design, and implement a controlled experiment, report the results of the experiment in written format, and give a presentation about the experiment and results. As sophomores, students take AP Research and Composition, which focuses on collaborating in groups and writing about complex topics.