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Course Catalog

Capstone Handbook

Portland High School - Capstone Experience 2023-24

What is a Capstone at Portland High School?

The Portland Public School Committee mandates that any student graduating from a public high school in Portland must complete a Capstone Project. This project requires students to engage in deep and meaningful research that answers an essential question developed by them. At Portland High School, students will work with a teacher to develop an open-ended research question, create a plan to investigate and explore, and then reflect upon the learning process. Students will present their learning experiences to an authentic audience. The audience will include people with an interest in or knowledge of the topic from the school and the community at large.

Guiding Principles

The Capstone Project requires students to demonstrate that they have addressed and reflected upon Guiding Principles B and D. The Guiding Principles state that each Maine student must leave school as:

B. A self-directed and lifelong learner who:

  • Recognizes the need for information and locates and evaluates resources
  • Applies knowledge to set goals and make informed decisions
  • Applies knowledge in new contexts
  • Demonstrates initiative and independence
  • Demonstrates flexibility including the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn
  • Demonstrates reliability and concern for quality
  • Uses interpersonal skills to learn and work with individuals from diverse backgrounds

D. A responsible and involved citizen who:

  • Participates positively in the community and designs creative solutions to meet human needs and wants
  • Accepts responsibility for personal decisions and actions
  • Demonstrates ethical behavior and the moral courage to sustain it
  • Understands and respects diversity
  • Displays global awareness and economic and civic literacy
  • Demonstrates awareness of personal and community health and wellness

Student-Centered Learning

Additionally, the following student-centered learning principles are at the center of the Capstone Project:

Learning is Personalized: Personalized learning recognizes that students engage in different ways and in different places. Students benefit from individually-paced, targeted learning tasks that start from where the student is, formatively assess existing skills and knowledge, and addresses the student’s needs and interests.

Learning is Competency-Based: Students move ahead when they have demonstrated mastery of content, not when they’ve reached a certain birthday or endured the required hours in a classroom.

Learning Happens Anytime, Anywhere: Learning takes place beyond the traditional school day, and even the school year. The school’s walls are permeable--learning is not restricted to the classroom.

Students Take Ownership Of Their Learning: Student-centered learning engages students in their own success and incorporates their interests and skills into the learning process. Students support each other's progress and celebrate success.

Capstone Requirements

The Portland High School Capstone Project allows students to choose their topic of study and the classroom setting that best fits their learning styles.  Although requirements may vary slightly depending on the Capstone instructor, the following components are required for all Capstone Projects and are addressed within the student’s chosen classroom setting:

Proposal Form- Students identify an area of interest and develop a core question that helps guide their project. Students also provide a detailed description of their project which includes a project overview, a connection to the student’s core question, and possible obstacles they might face.

Research/ Field Work Log- Students record all research and activities associated with the completion of the project.

Midway Check-in- Students schedule a meeting with their Capstone teacher in order to reflect on the progress of their project. Teachers may offer advice or implement support structures to encourage student success.

Capstone Project Presentation- All students present their projects to an authentic audience at the Capstone Fair. An authentic audience includes people outside the typical classroom setting with an interest in or knowledge of the student’s topic. If a student is unable to attend the Capstone Fair, the student is responsible for assembling and presenting their project to an authentic audience.

Capstone Project Reflection- Students reflect on various aspects of their project.  The Capstone teacher will provide specific reflection questions to students.


Capstone Project Opportunities 2023-2024

Students have multiple options to choose from when deciding where, when, and with whom they will undertake the Capstone Project. Students may choose to take either the Capstone Experience Course or one of the designated courses listed  below.  No matter which option is selected, students must declare their intended path to complete their Capstone Project.

Courses that offer capstones 2023-2024:

Designated Capstone Courses where a student may complete the requirement are:



Social Studies

Math & Computer Science



Fine & Performing Arts

Creative Writing II

AP Psychology

 Hon Statistics

AP Biology

Latin Prose & Latin Poetry

Drama Workshop

ELL English III

American Government

Personal Finance

ELL Biology

French History and Culture

Digital Photography

Family Genealogy


Intro to Coding (CP and Honors)

Honors Anatomy & Physiology


Band or Orchestra

Your College Voice


Hon Web Development

Hon & CP Physics


Intermediate Piano & Guitar

Digital Media



Engineering Product Design (CP and Honors)






Solutions to Environmental Problems



Additional Capstone Opportunities

Internship, Life After PHS, JMG, Academic Support, Functional Academics, Capstone Experience, PATHS (with teacher approval)


Requirements Checklist



Due Date:

Completed Date:

Teacher Signature

Capstone Project Agreement




Capstone Proposal Form




Research/Fieldwork Log




Midway Check-in




Capstone Project Presentation




Capstone Project Reflection





Capstone project contract


Capstone Proposal Form  ______________________________   ___________

                                                                                 (Name)                         (ID#) 

Step 1: Identify a core question.

            A core question is:

●      Based on your interests

●      Related to you, the school, or your community

●      Clearly stated as a question

●      Open-ended and exploratory

●      One that leads to new knowledge and learning                                        

My core question is:



Step 2: What will you investigate?



Step 3: Describe the Capstone Project.


Write a detailed description of your project plan.  Include an overview of what you hope to accomplish and discuss the challenges or obstacles that you may encounter while completing your Capstone Project.  Be sure to connect your project to your core question.  You will need to do some preliminary research in order to successfully complete your proposal.


Step 4: Approval



This proposal is approved.  ________________________________   





This proposal needs revision. ________________________________   




Capstone Research/Fieldwork Log


Student Name:          





 of Activity

Instructor Initials


























































I hereby confirm that the above log is accurate and completed to the best of the student’s ability.


Signature: _______________________________________________  

Date:  ______/______/________


Capstone Experience Reflection

Your reflection should include answers to the following items:


  1. Briefly summarize your Capstone Project.


  1. How is your core question of study related to you, the school, or the community?


  1. What skills do you feel you have developed? What skills still need work?


  1. Thinking about the whole process and your finished product, of what are you most proud?


  1. What was a difficulty you encountered and how did you address the problem?


  1. What is one thing about your approach to your project that you wish you could change? Why?


  1. What is one thing about your finished project you wish you could change? Why?


  1. What advice would you give to a student who will be completing their Capstone Project next year?


Portland High School Capstone Roles and Responsibilities


  • Communicate with teacher around capstone completion
  • Complete and turn in assignments on time
  • Complete presentation to an authentic audience by capstone fair date (make up fair if you have an excused absence on that day)
  • If not completed by make up fair, student is responsible for finding their own authentic audience and the student will not take part in graduation activities until capstone is completed
  • Work with teacher, guidance, administration, and ELO coordinator on remediation if necessary
  • Fill out proper form for switching their capstone if necessary, form in guidance office



  • Put what the capstone assignment is on your syllabus if it is embedded in a class
  • Hand out and collect the capstone project contract
  • Assign deadlines for required elements and collect each part of the capstone process (proposal, log, reflection etc)
    • Can store in Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator’s office if you would like to
  • Help make a plan for remediation if a student is struggling to complete their capstone
  • Communicate with ELO coordinator, guidance, and administration if a student is in danger of not passing
  • Update Infinite Campus to show whether or not a student has passed or failed their capstone by two days after the capstone fair.
  • Ensure students have an authentic audience for presentation and communicate with Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator if you want your class to be part of the “capstone fair” or the make up fair.
  • Communicate with Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator for support and contacts
  • After capstone fair(s), let ELO coordinator know which juniors have completed their capstone
  • Put on spreadsheet



  • Ensure that all students have a plan for their capstone, most likely through a course.
  • Let ELO coordinator know if a student drops a course with a capstone in it and what the new capstone course will be
  • Help make a plan for remediation if a student is struggling to complete their capstone
  • Switch capstones on Infinite Campus if a student switches capstones between classes they are already enrolled in
  • Students who completed their capstone as a junior will not have their capstone on Infinite Campus



  • Help make a plan for remediation if a student is struggling to complete their capstone
  • Inform Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator of this plan
  • Make plan with students who cannot graduate because of capstone
  • Inform Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator of this plan


Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator

  • Verify that all students have passed their capstone using (using Infinite Campus).Will check for pass/fail two days after the capstone fair
  • Maintain spreadsheet of which class students are doing capstone in to double check with Infinite Campus
  • Verify everyone is in a capstone class
  • Include juniors in the spreadsheet as they will not be on Infinite Campus
  • Double check that there is a remediation plan in place for a student if they failed or are struggling to complete capstone
  • Meet with students who want to switch capstone courses between two courses they are already enrolled in
  • Use Add/Drop Form and add signature at the bottom
  • Inform guidance if a student wants to switch capstones between two courses they are already enrolled in
  • Serve in “teacher” role for students doing internships as their capstone (juniors and seniors)
  • Communicate with PATHS teachers around student completion of capstone
  • Plan and execute “capstone fair”and make up fair
  • Maintain a list of which students are ineligible to graduate because of capstone
  • Edit the courses with embedded capstone list and keep it up to date



If a student fails their capstone

  • Teacher, guidance, and administration make a plan for remediation
  • Inform ELO coordinator of plan

If a student wants to switch capstone between two courses they are already enrolled in

  • Student turns in form to ELO coordinator with signatures of both teachers and their parent/guardian
  • ELO coordinator informs guidance of the switch needing to happen in Infinite Campus
  • In general, this should be discouraged

If a students wants to switch capstone to a course they are not yet enrolled in

  • Student must meet with counselor and complete add/drop form


Capstone FAQ

1.  What is A Capstone Project?

A capstone project is a project that involves both research and a presentation. The presentation is usually done at the capstone fair in May


2. When can I do my capstone?

Junior year, the summer before senior year, or senior year


3.  Is a capstone required to graduate?



4. How do I do my capstone project?

Most students complete their capstone project in a class. Some people complete it through a program such as Upward Bound or Gateway to Opportunity.


5. What do I do for a capstone in each of the classes?