This site is a virtual extension of my classroom. Each class has its own page (accessible by clicking the links above) where you can find syllabi, weekly agendas, handouts, readings, and more. Feel free to explore; there's lots to see, including samples of student work and photo albums of past classes. Enjoy your visit—and, if you're a current student in my class, come often!

This advanced, college-preparatory course surveys what has happened throughout the history of the United States. It is also an introduction to the way professional historians and others have written “the story of America.” In books, movies, classrooms, campaign speeches, museums, and more, people have told stories about the United States—stories complete with heroes, villains, and lessons to be learned. None of these stories give us the complete picture of what it means to be an American. “The story of America,” Harvard historian Jill Lepore reminds us, “isn’t carved in stone, or even inked on parchment; it is, instead, told, and fought over, again and again."

In Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (2010), philosopher and social critic Martha Nussbaum argues that “without support from suitably educated citizens, no democracy can remain stable” (p.10). This course takes her assertion as its starting point, and it aims to get high school seniors thinking critically and independently about questions every American adult ought to be asking. Over the course of the year, we will analyze, compare, and evaluate answers to these questions given by a diverse group of thinkers that extends beyond traditional social scientists (e.g., politicians, economists) to include philosophers, evolutionary biologists, writers, artists, and more.

What does it mean to be human? Students in AP Seminar will explore this perennial question by looking at a wide range of perspectives that bridge the sciences and humanities. Although specific topics change from year to year, investigating what it means to be human in the 21st century encourages us to ask a core set of enduring questions: What characterizes basic human nature? What, if anything, separates human beings from plants, animals, and machines? What should be emphasized about our mental lives? What drives human behaviors like making art, falling in love, or going to war?

AP Seminar is a foundational course in the AP Capstone Program, and its successful completion is a prerequisite to become eligible for taking AP Research


AP Research allows students to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, or issue of individual interest.Through this exploration, students design, plan, and conduct a year-long research based investigation to address a research question.


In the AP Research course, students further their skills acquired in the AP Seminar course by understanding research methodology; employing ethical research practices; and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information as they address a research question. The course culminates in an academic paper of 4000–5000 words (accompanied by a performance or exhibition of product where applicable) and a presentation with an oral defense.

© 2015-2020 by Max Cecil.