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Distinctive Scholars

This program is the highest tier to the existing Honors College of Leadership and Service. Only ninth grade students who meet specific criteria including a qualifying PSTA 8/9 score, a weighted GPA of 4.0 or higher, and active status in the Honors College Program are invited to apply.


By committing to the requirements to be a Distinctive Scholar, the student can set themselves apart in the classroom by demonstrating not only their commitment to academic rigor and continuous improvement but also a passion for learning while working both collaboratively and independently. The most significant benefit of being a Distinctive Scholar is preferred access to the AP Capstone, a college-level program for high school students that complements and enhances discipline specific AP courses. As a McDowell Distinctive Scholar, the student will also earn additional recognition beyond the AP Capstone Diploma as a student who has excelled In a rigorous, holistic learning environment.

AP Capstone Description & Structure

AP Capstone Is built on two courses - AP Seminar and AP Research- that immerse students in the practice of critical skills needed to distinguish themselves in college and in life. Earning an AP Capstone Diploma will help the student differentiate themselves to colleges and universities as a student who is prepared with research, writing, and the collaboration skills necessary for the college environment. Successful completion of both AP Seminar and AP Research, along with successful completion of four other AP courses, will allow the student to earn the AP Capstone Diploma.



Sandra Means, M.Ed.