SJA News


28 Students Achieve AP Capstone Honors


Alexandra Lawson giving her AP Capstone presentation Intricacies of the Anxiety-Sport Relationship. She and 17 other students earned the AP Capstone Diploma in 2017. Alex will matriculate at Middlebury College this fall.


In 2017, 28 SJA seniors earned AP Capstone honors: 18 earned the AP Capstone Diploma and 10 the AP Seminar and Research Certificate. Out of these 28 eligible students, 91% passed the required AP Research exam, compared to a pass rate of 70% nationally; 49% received the highest possible score on the exam (5), compared to 17% nationally; and 82% scored a 4 or higher, compared with only 35% nationally. Additionally, 67 students took the AP Seminar exam (the first course of the two-course AP Capstone sequence). Of these, 100% passed the exam, compared to 86% nationally. St. Johnsbury Academy is currently the only school in northern New England to offer the AP Capstone program.

2017 was the second year that students in 118 schools from across the U.S. selected by the College Board to pilot this new and highly regarded program were eligible to complete the AP Capstone Diploma or the AP Seminar and Research Certificate. The AP Capstone program was developed with input from the faculty and admissions staff from more than 50 colleges and universities, including Stanford, Columbia, Duke, and UC Berkeley. Philip Ballinger, Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Washington, said, "At the University of Washington, we are very interested in enrolling students who have distinguished themselves through the AP Capstone program. Students who successfully participate in the AP Capstone program learn how to read and assess sources critically, distill and synthesize conclusions based on evidence, and effectively communicate their conclusions to others. This developed skill of critical reading, thinking, and communicating is precisely what leads to high achievement and outcomes in college."

The AP Capstone program involves a two-course sequence: AP Seminar followed by AP Research. Students who complete the AP Seminar and Research courses and earn scores of 3 or higher on the subsequent exams, as well as on at least 4 other AP exams, earn the AP Capstone Diploma. Students successfully completing only the AP Seminar and AP Research courses and exams earn the AP Seminar and Research Certificate. St. Johnsbury Academy offers 24 AP courses in addition to AP Seminar and AP Research.

The 18 seniors earning the AP Capstone Diploma in 2017 were Lillie Brody, Emily Byford, Charles Cahillane, Seongmin Choo, Jacob Geil, Emily Green, Jonathan Green, Lauren Green, Athena Hendrick, Maeve Hening, Benjamin Lahey, Alexandra Lawson, Elsa Nygard, Amy Plambeck, Anna Pomerville, Brooke Smith, Raymond Wofford, III, and Lindsey Wood.

An additional 10 students earned the AP Seminar and Research Certificate: Emilie Begin, Auguste Benjamin, Zane Buckminster, Jaime DeKett, Herbert Durfee, IV, Emily Flory, Natalie Jones, Shira Linowes, Emma Reiner, and Hannah Ryan.

English department Chair and AP Research and AP Seminar teacher Steve Jolliffe said, "After spending a week this summer scoring exams for the College Board and ETS, I can say, without a doubt, that Academy students are leading the charge in terms of quality of writing, depth of research, and original topic selection. Our students are selecting important issues to research, from LGBTQ+ education in Vermont health classrooms to a cost benefit analysis of high-speed rail in the Northern New England corridor, from gender bias in network sports coverage of the Summer Olympics to ways to reduce plate waste in local elementary schools. They are producing well-designed, well-written research papers, their research methodology is well articulated and replicable, and they are, most importantly, contributing to the professional conversation, the goal of the AP Research course. AP Seminar is, of course, the foundational course for AP Research, and our scores suggest that the next cohort of students in AP Research will find similar success."

"We are very proud of the success of the students and their teachers in our AP program," Jeffrey Burroughs, the Academy's Assistant Headmaster for Academics, added. "St. Johnsbury Academy continues to be leader in the state, offering the most AP courses in the state and giving the most tests as well."

Headmaster Tom Lovett said, "The families of these students should be very proud of these accomplishments. These scores place our students among the top in the country, and the number of test-takers in a school our size is truly impressive. Our students stretch themselves as they reach for excellence. What is most impressive to me is that these students are not cookie-cutter scholars; they have diverse interests and learning styles. It's a testament to our talented faculty that so many different kinds of learners achieve internationally recognized credentials in this college-level program."

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