Class of 2022 Sari Hirata received delightful news in September 2022: a perfect score in AP Research. Sari, you are the capstone of the capstone!
After graduating with honors from HIS in June, Sari Hirata was met with the most delightful of news in September. Sari was one of only 306 people in the world to receive a perfect score in AP Research.
In a two-year AP Capstone journey, Sari developed and sharpened real-world skills to the finest of points, culminating in her personally designed study titled “The Effects of Teenage Stereotypes and Perceptions of the Teenage Brain on Neurocognitive Development in northern Japan.” Sari’s 4,999-word research paper along with her 20-minute oral presentation and defense received a perfect score, news that was delivered to Sari and the school in September. (See the letter below.)
The announcement followed Sari’s AP Research score given in July, moving Sari beyond the perfect score of five to a flawless submission—making Sari not just extremely qualified for college-level courses but a student in a class of her own. Sari attributes much of her success to three things: Her ability to self-motivate; Her hardworking, caring, and extremely supportive AP Capstone teacher Ms. Laura Harmon; and her Spotify playlists, which Sari claims helped her achieve a state of flow as she worked through her own self-doubts to produce a study of significance.
In an exclusive interview with HIS’s other AP Capstone teacher, Mr. Jared Pangier, Sari shares her reaction to the news along with the process she went through to achieve so much success.
“How did you feel when you found out your results?”
“Proud—I felt really proud of myself. Additionally, when I received the news, I felt like I was in a slump, being very unproductive and unmotivated, so it definitely gave me a (much needed) boost of motivation and confidence right before my first college semester started.”
Having known Sari since middle school, her answer is not surprising to me. I’m also not surprised how the news gives her confidence for college. The main design of all Advanced Placement classes are to prepare students for college, but the College Board’s most recent courses—AP Seminar and AP Research—were made especially to support students with skills that they could use in any future endeavor.
AP Seminar focuses on analyzing the argument of others, as students examine various perspectives to develop their own synthesized argument. In year two of the Capstone program, AP Research, students don’t just look at other people’s arguments, they examine an academic field within their interest and design a complete study with all working parts (research question, methodology, data analysis, conclusion, and next steps. In short, this is the first time most high school students take steps into the real research world, adding their voice to the academic conversation in a way that is ultra-personal as they seek to capture that elusive thing called truth, as Sari articulates here:
“The largest takeaway was that AP Research helped me discover my interest in pursuing research. I feel like I can confidently read existing literature and discuss the findings of research papers without getting as confused as I did before. (I also feel smarter and more logical after taking the course, which is always nice).”
Sari goes on to discuss how the course has helped her view the world through a more clearly focused lens, “AP Research also opened my eyes to the fine line between fact and falsehood. The course provided me perspective into how statistics work and how most findings are ambiguous and nuanced—I feel like I have learned to view the world in a different light because of this.”
As Sari continues her journey through the PEAK Environmental Sciences program at the University of Tokyo, she leaves one last important message for future Huskies:
“AP Capstone was a course that I could not have done well on if I didn’t enjoy the course. Whether that be the rush of dopamine you get from a perfect score on [one of the papers] or the rush of adrenaline from presenting your research, I recommend determining something about AP Capstone that you truly enjoy. It is what will help you stay motivated!”
And so, we congratulate you, Sari Hirata, for your perseverance and perfect success in AP Research and we also thank you. Thanks, Sari, for your ongoing motivation to better yourself and the world. You are truly the capstone of AP Capstone.
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