Already considered a top notch school, Palmetto Senior High is adding the AP Cambridge Capstone Program for the 2012-13 school year.
Cambridge Capstone is a pilot program put together by the College Board that coordinates the Advanced Placement program and the University of Cambridge. Palmetto is one of four high schools in Miami-Dade in the test group along with Southridge, Barbara Goleman and North Miami Beach High Schools. A total of 18 schools around the world will try out the program.
“We’re really excited about it,” says Palmetto principal Dr. Alison Harley. “It’s an opportunity for students to get in on the ground level. It’s a natural fit for Palmetto. We just expect great things.”
Harley says the program is innovative and came about because university recruiters indicated that while it has been good to have students come to college with AP classes under their belt, they now want students who know how to do research. Harley says the Cambridge Capstone program will teach students how to do research and show off those skills with a project.
“We are looking for current ninth grade students who are looking to challenge themselves,” Harley says. “In 10th grade, they’ll take their core courses, plus AP Human Geography.”
The second class is the seminar class, which will introduce the students to basic research skills. It also takes up key themes of global relevance. Students will evaluate topics through multiple themes. In the class, students will work in teams and make oral presentations. In the 11th grade, they will take the Research Project and develop a mentored research project. They can work independently or in teams guided by a teacher-mentor. Students will build on an AP or Seminar subject based on a series of hypotheses developed by the student. They will look for a world problem and write a 4,000- to 5,000-word research paper.
“A lot of research universities are endorsing this program,” Harley says. “It can give students a leg up if they can finish it successfully.”
The program has the students taking two AP courses at a school where top students often take four to six AP courses annually. Harley says that’s not a problem as they can still take other AP courses of their choosing.
“It’s not limiting them,” he says. “We encourage students to take as many AP courses as they can balance themselves with.”
Harley says three of Palmetto’s top teachers are attending a professional development seminar to prepare them for their role in the new program.
Palmetto will soon open an IPrep program. Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho personally headed the first IPreparatory Academy in the school board building in downtown Miami.
“It’s an innovative thing, that our superintendent has started,” Harley says. “Its technology based.”
Renovations are underway on four classrooms in two areas of the school for the IPrep program.
“We are looking to open that in the fall,” she says. “It’s really a neat environment. There are a lot of great things on the horizon.”
For more information, go to www.MPHS.dadeschools.net.