Capstone Student Experience

The Capstone experience provides an opportunity for students to explore their passions in depth, through a process that places an emphasis on collaboration, communication, and real-world application of knowledge.  The journey begins early in one’s high school career, as you explore your options and interests, and culminates with the Capstone project.

What do students say about Capstone?

“I realize now, after graduating from high school, that my Capstone really helped me decide what I wanted to do in life.”

“My Capstone experience prepared me for real-life business interactions.”

Kids on computer
Planning Your Capstone

Freshman Year:
– Explore interests, get involved with your school and community, learn about your world, challenge yourself
– Talk with your parents, counselors, teachers – develop a four-year/post high school plan.  Your interest and plans may adjust, but the four-year plan will provide direction for your Capstone planning.
– Take electives that are of interest to you. The Capstone Course comes after the student takes an introductory and intermediate course in their area of interest.  Be sure you enroll in the courses you need to take the Capstone Course you want.
– Stay involved with learning both in and out of school.  Continue to practice your critical thinking, creative problem-solving, collaboration and communication skills.

Sophomore Year:
– Adjust your four-year plan as your interests develop.
– Take the electives that will get you to the Capstone Course you are interested in.
– Stay involved with learning both in and out of school.

Junior Year:
– Continue to refine your interests and expand your knowledge.
– Review the electives section of the high school Registration Guide to learn more about Capstone Courses in the four Area of Interests: Arts & Communication, Global Studies, Health & Social Sciences, and STEM.
– As a Junior, you may be ready to enroll in a Capstone Course.  Most students take their Capstone Course in their senior year. You may enroll in more than one Capstone Course during your high school experience.

What's Involved in a Capstone?

All Capstone courses have the same components:  (more about each of these in the links below):

  • Pre-search – Think about and become informed about an area of interest (This could start before you get to high school!)
  • Identify a driving question – A driving question has no one, clear answer; it “drives” your Capstone work.
  • Create a SMART Goal – this clearly states what success will look like when you have completed your Capstone work.
  • Create an action plan that will help you stay on track to meet your SMART goal.
  • Keep track of all the things you do as you implement your action plan.
  • All Capstone work includes an outside audience.
  • Reflect on your work, celebrate what went well, learn from the challenges.
Completing Your Capstone

There are 22 Capstone courses to choose from. These are broken into four Areas of Interest: Arts & Communication, Global Studies, Health and Social Sciences, and STEM.  Some Capstone Courses are semester-long courses, others are for a full-year.  Though each course is very different in content, the Capstone experience has some things in common regardless of the course.  The timeline below is a general guide to help you know what to expect.  Teachers will help guide the student to ensure success in a particular course.


  • Expect to learn about the course and course expectations
  • Release forms – You may want to leave class on occasion to work on your Capstone.  Your teacher will explain the circumstances in which this is appropriate.  The forms include the parent/school permissions for release.
  • Capstone rubric – The rubric clearly outlines what a successful Capstone includes.  Your teacher may have other rubrics to clarify expectations along the way.
  • Portfolio checklist – You will be expected to submit a portfolio at the end of your Capstone work.

GETTING INTO THE COURSE (approximately weeks 3-6)

  • Time to dig in!  (Expect this time to be a little confusing as you try to arrive at a good driving question.  The high school Media Center web pages have resources to help with identifying and researching your driving question.)

IN FULL SWING (approximately weeks 7-15)

  • The development of a good action plan will guide you as you delve deep into the work of your Capstone.
  • You may be working alone or in a group.
  • You may have regular meetings with a mentor.
  • You may be going out into the community to learn, plan and do.
  • Your teacher may have check points of things you need to have accomplished.
  • You may be setting up presentations, skype sessions, meetings with clients
  • The outside audience is a requirement of all Capstone courses.  Examples of an outside audience include:
    • Presentation to a business or community audience  (a presentation to your Capstone class is NOT an outside audience)
    • Work directly with an organization to plan and implement a project (school, church, business)
    • Website, blog, on line exhibition   (must have a promotion plan and a way to track exposure)
    • Exhibition or performance


Emily Mattran
Chanhassen High School
Career Resource Center
Tara Halvorson
Chaska High School
Career Resource Center