Being Good Sports About a Virtual AP Stimulus Day
March 11, 2021
For the past four years, Sayville High School AP-Seminar students and teachers have held an annual event, called “Stimulus Day,” to which they invited students and teachers from other districts to share thoughts and ideas about the AP Capstone’s “stimulus materials” provided by the College Board. This annual collaboration was the brainchild of Sayville English teacher Jen Sohl and was “an integral part of the students’ progress during Performance Task 2—feedback from each other,” Sohl noted. It also established “a tight-knit learning community” with neighboring school districts.
However this year has been unlike previous years, so the Fifth Annual Stimulus Day was more of a virtual experience. That didn’t stop Mrs. Jen Sohl and Mrs. Tracey Trentowski, who coordinated the event, from planning a full agenda based upon The College Board topic—sports.
Since 2016, Sayville High School has been offering the AP Capstone Program*—comprised of AP Seminar and AP Research—in which groups of students select timely topics and develop college-level research, problem‐solving, and communication skills that colleges seek in their applicants. To complete the program, each member of the group researches the “stimulus materials” on the topic and selects a different aspect upon which to focus. After the students have thoroughly reviewed the topic, each writes an individual 2,000-word report. Then in May, the team synthesizes the material to create a six- to eight-minute group presentation arguing for the team’s chosen solution. This culminates the program.
“Stimulus Day,” explained Mrs. Trentowski, “is a way to engage students with the College Board material.” It provides an interim learning experience based upon the stimulus documents by offering the students an opportunity to hear from experts in the field. The material becomes more than just a written-word exercise when enlivened by real people with real-world experiences.
With “sports” as this year’s topic, the 2021 Stimulus Day began with a meditative moment conducted by Mindfulness Coach Ciardullo. The students learned about famous athletes like Serena Williams and examined both “The Psychological Impact of Sport” and “Empowering Women Through Sport.” They gained a clearer understanding of the “Sporting Spirit,” through the interactive presentations by Sayville faculty. In addition, Stimulus Day had a virtual guest this year, professional photographer Bill Bamberger whose photos in “Hoops” were used by the College Board to illustrate the sports theme.
Adapting to this new normal takes determination. Making Stimulus Day happen, despite the challenges, demonstrates the kind of sporting spirit it takes to achieve one’s goals. Sayville’s AP Capstone students were not only given an opportunity to examine and actively participate in the stimulus topic, they were also provided an example by the Sayville staff how to negotiate life’s hurdles to achieve success. Kudos to all—staff and students—for all your hard work and for being good sports about the change of format.
*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.