Senior earns rare College Board distinction

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Last spring, current Senior Rachel Zheng received a letter from Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President of the AP and Instruction of the College Board, congratulating her on her performance on the AP Seminar exam, which she had completed at the end of her sophomore year. He said that she “not only received a top score of 5, but was one of only 6 students (accounting for just 0.019 of 2018 AP Seminar exam takers) from around the world to earn every point possible on this difficult assessment.”

When she initially received the letter, Rachel described, “I was really shocked to have received the letter from College Board congratulating me because I remember walking out of the gym after the AP somewhat unconfident. It still feels surreal to have been able to accomplish this, but it definitely feels very rewarding.”

Rachel explained that the main reason for her success is the preparation she received from AP Capstone teacher Franco Scardino. “The whole year can be considered as prepping for the test and the weeks leading up to the exam were more like brushing up on skills rather than learning something dramatically new.”

Mr. Scardino said he was thrilled to hear the news. “Her success in the course is due to her ability to take on rigorous challenges.” Mr. Scardino continued, “My role as the teacher was to teach and develop the skills students need to develop…. During the course of the year, students developed a National History Day project which was the framework for teaching the historical and research skills needed.”

Rachel said, “I would absolutely recommend the course to other students. It’s one of my most rigorous courses, but the skills I’ve been able to learn are invaluable. Learning to properly and efficiently research, support my ideas with credible evidence, synthesize multiple perspectives, and present in a professional, engaging manner are things I’m confident I will utilize throughout the course of my whole life. These skills have also helped tremendously in my other courses.”

Mr. Scardino added, “The AP Capstone Diploma is now recognized by the most competitive colleges and universities as evidence of college readiness and beyond. I highly recommend this course to all students of Townsend Harris High School… as it is perfectly aligned with the mission of the school.”

May 2018 was the first year the AP Capstone exam was administered at THHS. History teacher Chris Hackney and Mr. Scardino taught the newly implemented two-year AP Capstone course, which consists of AP Capstone Seminar and AP Capstone Research. 

Rachel is currently enrolled in AP Capstone Research, the second course in the AP Capstone program. “I’ve been able to pursue original research in a field of interest to me. I’m in the process of conducting a project on consumer psychology, which is under the field of business. Being that I want to study business in college, this research has allowed me to get some early insight into what I may potentially go on to study within business.”