Holy Family Is Getting Smarter


Mia Paulson

AP Seminar is a new class in the Holy Family curriculum this year, and is headed by Mr. Willden and Mrs. Saint John.

“The goal of AP Seminar is to impart skills upon students that they will need in college: research skills, group working skills, etc. I also think that it does something far more important, and creates engaged thoughtful citizens,” Mr. Willden commented.

AP Capstone is a two year program consisting of AP Seminar and AP Research. Research skills are focused on throughout both classes, with AP Seminar being the base for the more advanced AP Research class. AP Seminar is available to both sophomores and juniors, and AP Research follows the year after.

“The first year focuses on the base skills: can you understand bias info, are you able to do a database search well, can you find info that supports your claim, can you read an article and find main ideas, support, and thesis?…  Research is more along the lines of you as a student coming to look at a problem and finding a solution to that problem,” says Mr. Willden, encouraging everyone to take both courses, even if AP Research is not technically required.

AP Diploma and Capstone Certificate Requirements

This class brings even more opportunity for every student at Holy Family to earn college credit, giving them a head start to college and life outside of Holy Family. Not only does it give the opportunity for more college credit, but it brings into the conversation an AP Diploma and a Capstone Certificate. To get the AP Diploma, the student has to earn a passing score, which is a three or higher, in four additional classes to AP Seminar and AP Research. To earn the Capstone Certificate, the student only has to earn a passing grade in both Capstone classes.

Mr. Willden is very passionate about bringing this class to Holy Family, and has been for a long time. “I had wanted it to be part of the curriculum since about 2017. I went to Heritage High school down in Littleton to see it done and see it taught and I really wanted it to be a part of the program for a long time. But because there were other courses that were happening, and other kind of things occurring, especially last year, I’m kind of surprised it did make it through. But we’re really excited to have it now. It’s been a desire of mine for a while now,” he states.

AP Seminar Textbook

His dreams have finally come true! Both Mr. Willden and Mrs. Saint John have worked very hard to bring this class to Holy Family, and the work continues to this day. “We spent a good long week, and I do mean hours and hours on training from the AP college board, and we spent 40 hours on the training itself. Mrs. Saint John and I will meet almost every day, at least every other day, to talk about what we’re going to do next or what worked in her class and mine, and what didn’t work and how we can make changes,” Willden comments.

Mr. Willden is very thankful for Mrs. Saint John and everything she’s done to help him bring the class to life. “She became the biggest cheerleader for the program that anyone has ever had. I really wouldn’t have been able to do it or been confident enough to put it to academic counsel without Mrs. Saint John’s support.”

This class is an amazing addition to the academic atmosphere here at Holy Family. It works the minds of the students, while keeping them engaged in current issues and teaching them how to have their voices be heard in a well-informed way. Mr. Willden puts it simply: “it’s my favorite class I’ve ever taught.”