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CCSD Celebrates AP Capstone Graduates, Perfect Score

CCSD Celebrates AP Capstone Graduates, Perfect Score

The Cherokee County School District is celebrating its latest class of AP Capstone graduates, including the first cohort from River Ridge High School and a perfect score by a Sequoyah High School student!

Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone is a two-year project-based learning program designed to help students develop critical thinking, research, collaboration and presentation skills that are crucial to college and career success.  

The elite program, which was developed by The College Board in partnership with colleges and universities, is offered in select high schools nationwide.  Etowah High School graduated its first class in 2019, Sequoyah High School graduated its first class in 2022 and River Ridge High School graduated its first class this past school year.  Woodstock High School will graduate its first class this school year, with Cherokee High School beginning the two-year program this school year.   

Only about 15,000 students nationwide earn the AP Capstone Diploma annually, including 48 members of CCSD’s Class of 2023.  Instead of a single end-of-year exam, the interdisciplinary AP Seminar and AP Research courses assess students’ knowledge mastery through group projects, presentations and individual essays throughout the year.  To earn the honor, students must achieve scores of 3 or higher in both AP Seminar and AP Research courses as well as on at least four AP course exams.  Students who achieve scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research, but not on four course exams, earn the AP Seminar and Research Certificate, and seven CCSD 2023 graduates earned that honor.  Students who achieve a 3 or higher (on a scale of 1 to 5) on an AP exam can qualify for college credit at most state colleges and universities, thereby avoiding college tuition payments for those classes.  

“Congratulations to our AP Capstone Diploma graduates and our program’s dedicated teachers for this outstanding accomplishment,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “We’re always looking for ways to increase rigor in our classes -- AP classes answer that call for us, with the AP Research and Seminar program supporting our highest achieving students.  It truly offers a challenging next-level learning experience for these scholars, which we know will benefit them as they continue their education in college.  We’re deeply grateful for our exemplary teachers who successfully lead this special program.”   

Paige Falcomata

Paige Falcomata

In addition to seeing increasing participation and success districtwide, a CCSD AP Capstone graduate achieved a new milestone for the district: a perfect score on the AP Research assessment!  Sequoyah HS Class of 2023 graduate and Salutatorian Paige Falcomata earned every point possible through the challenging exam process, which includes a 4,000 to 5,000 word academic paper, presentation and oral defense.  Only 357 students worldwide earned a perfect score.

Principal Robert Van Alstyne and Dr. Cathy Murphy, Paige’s AP Research teacher, applauded her success.

“I am very proud of Paige but not at all surprised by this great news!” Dr. Murphy said.  “Not only is she a pleasure to teach, but she is a superior researcher, an exemplary writer and an incredible presenter.” 



Congratulations to all of CCSD’s 2023 Capstone Graduates: 

Carson Allen
Sydney Baker
Leslie Castillo 
Devyn Damiano 
Julianna Dela Torriente 
Lyla Dennis 
Priscilla Dice 
Rebecca Frix 
Brandon Geary
Michael Gibbons 
Kyle Giglio 
Sophia Kutz 
Jose Lago 
Gracye Lamb 
Sawyer Lofstrom 
Barbara McPherson 
Blake Nash 
Jaidyn Novak 
Deesha Panchal 
Ila Prabhuram 
Ryan Tipper 
AP Research and Seminar teachers: John Murnan and Donell Osborne

Sofia de Lira 
Arianna Dunkley 
Sydney Ellenberger 
Leah Gentry 
Miranda Murphy 
Ashley Reardon
AP Research and Seminar teachers: Leigh Becigneul, Tracye Bulger and Juan Mora

Shayla Canfield 
Domenic Colonna
Paige Falcomata 
Brock Freeman 
Aidan Geist 
Megan Kirby
Kathryn Klucsarits 
Brett Lowry 
Taryn Mareau 
Stephanie Mater 
Katherine McKenzie 
Temitayo Ogundele
Taylor Pecht 
Sophia Rodriguez
Christian Roush 
Clint Schuler
Julia Sick 
Michael Strommen 
Clayton Tucker 
John Tucker 
AP Research and Seminar teachers: Dr. Cathy Murphy and Paul Peacock