Menlo Interdisciplinary and Personalized Scholars Program
Chart your own course.
Menlo IP provides students with meaningful opportunities to demonstrate initiative and be knowledge creators and autonomous learners who can forge new ways to distinguish themselves in their studies during their high school years. Students can opt to shape interesting, thoughtful, distinctive academic explorations in four broad Fields of Study.
- Civic Leadership – provides students the opportunity to learn about the dynamics of leadership in both theory and practice and then has students take on an internship and see how these theories play out for real-world leaders and decision makers.
Community Engagement and Impact – provides an opportunity for students to examine the root causes of a societal problem or inequity and become problem solvers who envision possible solutions to community challenges.
- Arts & Letters – teaches students to interpret creative works, grounds them in the history, theory, and context of their chosen genre, and supports them in creating their own original work or producing original scholarly criticism
- Global Scholars – fosters global competency and dispositions of global engagement (Note: The Global Scholars program is already established and has served a dozen students well over the past few years. We’ve used it as a template in developing the other Fields of Study.)
Students interested in pursuing one of these Fields of Study will select some courses from a curated list that provide an interdisciplinary approach to learning and the skill development to set them up to complete an immersive academic capstone project in their junior or senior year.
The Capstone Experience
The capstone project is a signature feature of Menlo IP. IP Scholars will produce a significant piece of original work, which could be scholarly research but could also be creative work or a documentary film or a testimony before a government agency or launching a nonprofit or something else of the student’s design. They will also make an oral presentation of their work and “defense” of their thesis before a panel of teachers.
Expectations for the capstone projects are high, and students will need to make a significant time commitment to execute them. Given these expectations, capstone classes in each Field of Study will be designated with honors status, and a special notation for IP Scholars will be added to transcripts. To help guard against overload, scholars working on their capstones will enroll in the capstone class—which would help keep them on track and build a sense of a cohort for those executing their projects—as well as take a free period or an elective that does not generate homework. Additionally, students in the IP program can have certain graduation requirements waived to make space in their schedule for their interests and to create a sense of balance.
The capstone experience is separate from the senior projects, which all 12th graders complete in their last month before graduation. The Menlo IP capstone experience is substantially more academic and a greater investment of academic time. Seniors will still be required to complete senior projects, which for the class of 2020 and beyond, will incorporate more of a service focus.
Who is a Good Fit for Menlo IP?
Menlo IP is a completely opt-in program accessible to all students. It’s flexible enough that students can take the IP courses whether they wanted to commit to the capstone project experience, or not, or are still making up their minds. In general, students who are intrigued by the program’s course choices and broader perspective they feature and who have an interest in taking a deep dive into an interest area may want to consider the program.