AP Capstone Program Announced for Vicksburg High

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Vicksburg Board of Education members listen to a presentation by Adam Brush and Matthew Hawkins about the new AP Capstone program to be initiated at the high school next year. They are from left: Trustee Tina Forsyth, Board Vice-President Carol Lohman, Superintendent Keevin O’Neill, Board President Skip Knowles, Administrative Assistant Amy Manchester, Trustee Dave Schriemer, Trustee Wil Emmert. Missing from the photo are Trustees Deborah Harsha and Rudy Callen.

By Sue Moore

Vicksburg High School has been chosen as an AP Capstone diploma school to provide special courses for advanced placement students, it was announced at the January School Board meeting. The administrative team of Principal Adam Brush and Superintendent Keevin O’Neill have been working on this application to the College Board Association for the last several years. They just received notification of its acceptance. There are only 19 high schools in the state of Michigan that have qualified, including Portage and Hastings.

Eighteen advanced placement courses are currently offered in the high school according to Brush. For AP Capstone, 20 to 25 of the top students will likely qualify to take this project-based learning course for two years. It consists of one year of AP Seminar and one year of AP Research. Instead of teaching specific subject knowledge, the two courses use an interdisciplinary approach to develop the critical thinking, research, collaboration, time management and presentation skills students need for college. The College Board developed the AP Capstone Diploma program at the request of higher education professionals who saw a need for a systematic way for high school students to begin mastering these skills before college, according to the board’s website.

Michigan universities are on board with correlating these courses to what they offer in the way of credits, O’Neill said.

“By taking these individual studies and passing the AP Capstone exam, students are put in elite company when applying to college,” Brush said. Vicksburg’s teachers who oversee the course offerings will have extensive training this summer before the AP Seminar is offered to 11th graders. The training cost is $10,000 to the District and will be funded by the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation. The goal is to develop elite writers, readers and researchers, Brush said.

In other business, Steve Goss, assistant superintendent for finance, explained the work that his department is doing in facilities planning for future upgrades to buildings and grounds. “We are starting to gather input from stakeholders across the community. There is lots of work to be done in preparation for a ballot issue in 2020, which has been our plan for some time.”

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