A Stimulating Day for AP Seminar Students In Sayville and Bayport-Blue Point

  • During a recent in-school field trip called “AP Stimulus Day,” Sayville High School AP-Seminar students and teachers hosted Bayport-Blue Point AP-Seminar students and teachers for some intellectually stimulating interactions.  “Two years ago we hosted Shoreham Wading River High School,” Sayville High School English and AP Seminar teacher Jennifer Sohl said, “and the day was more rewarding than we could have imagined. The students gained immeasurable benefits from the instruction and collegiality. This year we are partnering with BBP, as they are our neighbors and new to the program.”

    Since 2016, Sayville High School has been offering the AP Capstone Program*—comprised of AP Seminar and AP Research—that allows our students to immerse themselves in topics that matter to them. These courses help them develop the analytic, research, problem‐solving, and communication skills that colleges seek in their applicants.

    The AP Stimulus Day, now an annual activity, was the inspiration of Sohl who created the event four years ago.  “It was one way to break down the more than fifty pages of ’Stimulus’ material provided by the College Board for the AP Seminar Course. The Stimulus material,” Sohl continued, “is the foundation for the students’ second performance task for their AP score.”

    “These AP students have already completed their first performance task,” Sohl’s AP Seminar colleague Margie Dashiell expounded, “which consisted of a project in which groups of students choose a problem, each member researches a different aspect of it and writes an individual report, and then the team synthesizes the material to create a group presentation arguing for the team’s chosen solution. The second task requires students to use pieces of the stimulus material as inspiration/a springboard for an individual written argument (IWA) and presentation.” 

    Both Sohl and Dashiell have arranged for these annual “Stimulus Days” with other districts because they feel it is equally important for their students to establish relationships with students in neighboring districts. This student collaboration can serve as “an integral part of their progress during Performance Task 2 …for feedback from each other, Sohl noted, “establishing a tight-knit learning community.” 

    This year’s meet-and-greet between the two districts was held over bagels ‘n fixings and Valentine candies in the Sayville High School Library center. The students began their day with yoga and meditation. The stress-reducing routines to give everyone relaxing mindfulness moments were led by Sayville High School’s resident yogi/social studies teacher, Eileen Walsh-Ahrens.

    “We were excited,” Sohl shared, “to see that the overriding theme across the stimulus material provided by the College Board is happiness.  It included materials from an interview with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu to a scientific journal about the happiness gene to "Big Daddy's Last Dance," a video of the New Orleans jazz artist’s funeral.  The connection to the district's commitment to mindfulness in Sayville STRIDES was undeniable.” 

    Afterwards, the Sayville and Bayport-Blue Point students and teachers enjoyed a full day of activities, highlighted by presentations from other guest instructors.  Dashiell noted: “AP Biology teacher Adriana LoCicero helped break down a complicated stimulus piece on genes and happiness while band instructors Diane Hoffman and Kerri VanBoxel helped students experience firsthand ‘Big Daddy's Last Dance,’ a video of the New Orleans jazz artist’s funeral.  They arranged for an upbeat mock rendition performed by jazz ensemble students and led by Grand Marshall Shaun Gibbons, a senior.  Seminar students were encouraged to join the ‘Second Line,’ a New Orleans tradition in which residents dance along with the band.”  Dashiell added, “We are so grateful to work with such generous colleagues who so willingly volunteer their time to help our students.”

    For the students it was a very fulfilling AP Stimulus day:

    • Anthoula Paloubis: I enjoyed the stimulus day. It helped to understand the materials in an interactive and interesting way. I like how we had BBP kids there to help with our ideas. I also liked how we had different teachers in the school explaining the materials based on their area of expertise. 
    • Annika Von Eschen- Stimulus day was an overall good experience. Every student there had a positive attitude and different ideas to share. By the end I had a new understanding of the concepts and many new ideas to be used for my IWA.
    • Elisa McGuinness- I liked how we weren’t confined to our desks while learning the material. We were able to learn in an interesting way with activities.
    • Will Kretz: Stimulus day was like a New Orleans Funeral procession, starting out slow... and ending with a fast-paced jazz performance from the High School Band.
    • Swati Sheth- So much fun!! Good food!! I learned a lot and got so much out of it!
    • Gavin Allen: Our Stimulus Day was very helpful! We discussed the stimulus material for our IWA assignment with the kids from BBP and this greatly increased our understanding of the resources and how we can use them in our assignment.
    • Sarah Hinteman- Stimulus day was an amazing experience. Knowing that there are kids from other schools that we can ask question, bounce ideas off of, and simply ask for help. Being that for this portion of the class our teachers can’t give direct feedback, however, our new found friends can along with our peers. Hopefully, they will be willing to help us and work with us to do the best we can due to the fact that this project does count for part of our AP exam. 


    *According to the AP Capstone Website:

    AP Seminar is a yearlong course in which students investigate real-world issues from multiple perspectives. Students learn to synthesize information from different sources, develop their own perspectives in research-based written essays, and design and deliver oral and visual presentations, both individually and as part of a team. During the course, students complete a team project and an individual paper and presentation, as well as take a written end-of-course exam. These components contribute to the overall AP Seminar score.