Rockstar researchers

The AP Capstone program fosters a community dedicated to learning, creating unique projects throughout the year.


Kaithlyn Tubens (’23) works hard to collect data for her research project.

Maya Hernandez

Displayed proudly on the J.W. Mitchell logo for seven years, the AP Capstone program provides a skill-based curriculum to prepare teenagers for twenty-page college essays and delivering lengthy presentations. Split up into two classes, AP Seminar and AP Research, the rather rigorous courses work to make intimidating future theses an easy “A”. Conducting their own original individual research, the second-year Research scholars have every option from twin telepathy to Harry Potter’s effect on politics, to develop a never done before paper that is subject to peer review and publication into reputable journals.

Kaithlyn Tubens (’23), finds herself reading for her year-long project by picking up young adult best-sellers like Twilight, Colleen Hoover’s Regretting You, Five Feet Apart, and several more. From these popular book titles, she plans to create a content analysis to identify unrealistic romantic tropes that potentially alter the perception adolescents’ have of the ideal “healthy relationship”.

“When you start Capstone, it might be stressful at first but if you keep going with it, you’ll eventually be able to pick a topic you’re passionate about and go at your own pace. It’s a really great program that I’m able to apply to what I want to pursue in college, which is English and communications, so this is right up my alley,” Tubens said.

Working to shed light on Agent Orange and its persisting negative effects on Vietnamese citizens, Elena Ta (’23) is distributing surveys and conducting video interviews with people in Vietnam to further analyze the topic that rarely receives any media coverage.

“I just found out about Agent Orange in my AP US History class last year. I noticed that hardly anybody was talking about how the herbicidal warfare still impacts Vietnamese citizens today, and given that I am also Vietnamese, the topic really resonated with me. Time management is key in getting work done in the class, which comes pretty easily when you are doing something that impacts a whole body of knowledge,” Ta said.   

Planning to major in nutrition after high school, Athena Stefas (’23) looks to discover the impacts motivation has on bodybuilding. Developing surveys for female bodybuilders and women who work out on their own, she looks to social media to find the true motivation of this strenuous task beyond the mental and physical consequences.

“This topic is really interesting to me because many health studies primarily involve men and rarely look at the impacts that women face. I feel confident in this class even though I’m really trying to find an answer that’s completely new to an existing issue mainly because of the immense support I get from Mrs. Orrego and the fellow researchers. We are all just like one tiny family figuring out things together,” Stefas said.

Currently accepting applicants, the AP Capstone teachers, Mrs. Seletos and Mrs. Orrego, encourage young minds to create and think critically about real-world issues. This program offers many prestigious opportunities that increase the competitive edge one has in future college and job applications.