After nearly three years of intensive work, 18 Plano High School students became the first graduates of the school’s AP Capstone program. Also recognized were the newest inductees into the program.
Karen Franks, AP Biology, AP Research, Honors Biology, and Biology Teacher, and Jessica Dellorto, AP Capstone Seminar Teacher, introduced the students.
“We, the students, Jessica Dellorto, and myself, have worked together to navigate the beast that is AP Capstone. I love this class because I love to learn and I have learned a lot while guiding them through this course and their research projects,” Franks said.
She noted that the students spent much time researching intriguing things to find unanswered questions, or a gap in the current knowledge. They then set out to answer those questions using surveys, interviews, meta-analysis, and content analysis.
Some of their projects included how school start times, peer influence, and class size affect academic success; how playing an instrument affects reaction time; how AP classes affect the amount of sleep students get and their anxiety levels; how the idea of beauty has changed over time; and numerous other projects just as interesting as these.
“My hope is that they take what they have learned, build upon it, and help solve the world’s problems, making a little piece of history,” Franks said as she presented Plano High School’s pioneer Capstone varsity scholars.
High School Principal Eric Benson noted that it all starts at home for the students.
“When they come through our doors every day, they give us their very best,” he said. “We talk about all the success at Plano High School whether it’s ACT scores going up every year or whether it is the increased AP classes.”
He said Plano was one of the first 17 schools out of the 450 in the state, and the only one in Kendall County to have the Capstone program. “This is definitely a college level opportunity for our students.”
Benson said there were only 5 AP classes in the school when he started and before Dr. Hector Garcia was named superintendent five years ago. “Now we’re over 28 AP classes which gives students the opportunity to do college level course work at the high school level,” he added. He noted that without the vision Garcia brought to Plano the school would not have continued to grow.
Benson said they are receiving help from the community doing their research projects and said many members of the community were in the audience tonight to help the students celebrate.
For the student selection process, the initial list of recruits was determined by enrollment in honors and AP courses, student’s current GPA, and overall rank as well as how they scored on a written essay and an interview with the selection team.
He said most of the students went into this wide-eyed not knowing what they were getting into. “And many of the teachers were not sure either, but they knew it was the right thing to do for their students because they could do it,” he added.
He said this was the third year the students accepted the Capstone challenge, just like they accepted the AP challenges. “If students want to accept these challenges the staff will do all possible to help them attain it,” Benson said.
He noted that Dr. Garcia said the top 20 universities and colleges in the nation are looking for students like Plano’s Capstone graduates to be among their next list of best students.
Sophomores entering the Capstone program and receiving their certificates from Jessica Dellorto, were Ayo Adekoya, Allison Arguezo, Jazmin Baca, Payton Cullison, Alyssa Dolan, Laila Ertz, RaeLynn Galloway, Ryleigh Johnson, Mason Larsen, Carmen Lopez, Cassie Miles, Kevin Montenegro, Naomi Shead, Justin Tran, and Elias Wallace.
Seniors graduating from the program and receiving their certificates from Karen Franks, were Marily Arboleda, Will Benson, Marco Cardoso, Bradi Gann, Ruby Garcia-Miranda, Jamie Heller, Anthony Heriaud, Marie Makasiar, Ashley Martinez, Elizabeth Metcalf, Daisy Oyervides, Yadira Rosales, Brittany Strause, Ryan Szypura, Gema Tinoco, Angel Vivanco, Wanjiru Wambugu, and Kailey Westrope.
Sponsors of the event were the Plano Area Chamber of Commerce, Timber Creek Lodge, Walmart, Waubonsee Community College, Plano Rotary Club, First Insurance Group, and Heartland Bank and Trust Co.