At Calabasas High School last Friday night, Matthew Anderson, Vidish Gupta, Nathan White and Shiva Yagobian draped blue and white cords over their graduation gowns— something a little special for this group of seniors.
Among their many high school accomplishments, the students were the first to complete all course requirements in the school’s new AP Capstone Diploma program.
Calabasas High School began offering courses for the Advanced Placement Capstone Diploma two years ago, responding to a push by the College Board organization for students to develop improved research skills, research writing skills and presentation skills.
It takes two years for Capstone students to take the AP Seminar and Research classes, which require group and individual research projects and submission of a final project for publication in research journals.
Final AP test scores—as well as four additional AP courses, which are the most academically challenging at the school—are also required for the diploma.
“Two of the aspects of the course that I think are most interesting for students are their ability to focus intensely on a topic of interest to them and that this topic can be from any academic discipline,” said Kathleen Kreycik, the CHS teacher who directs the program.
“Such variety can make for a somewhat chaotic looking classroom, but it also promotes a depth of learning that is hard to match in other instructional settings,” Kreycik said.
Matthew Anderson’s project tried to determine why fewer reports of bullying have been recorded over the last two years by the CHS’s Peer Support group. Anderson will study at Azusa Pacific University with the goal of becoming a math teacher.
Vidish Gupta said, “Through the program, I learned how to become a better speaker and better researcher ready to work in a high-level academic setting.”
Gupta performed a cost-benefit analysis of solar panels for his project. In the fall, Gupta will attend UC Berkeley and study electrical engineering and computer science.
Nathan White says his biggest takeaway was the writing skills he learned in the program. His project, “Friendship Dynamics within Mathematics Group Work,” studied whether close friendships between group members affected the group’s achievement, enjoyment and productivity. White will study computer science at Northwestern University.
Shiva Yagobian hopes to pursue a career in medical research, and her Capstone project was titled “A Study of the Psychological Impact of Nuclear Medicine Treatments vs. Chemotherapy Treatments.”
Yagobian will pursue a medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh.
But it wasn’t all work and no play for the students.
“I was most impacted by the fun memories that came between the collaboration and work,” Anderson said.
The experience produced “amazing stories” that will be cherished for life, the student said.