Integrated Capstone Seminar update


Jill Zmolek, Reporter

AMES HIGH WEB EXCLUSIVE. The teachers want their students to be able to articulate what they’re doing, as they think students should be the voice of the class. Once the students can articulate their work, only then can other sources hear from the class.


It’s common knowledge at Ames High that any student who didn’t sign up for ICS has made a terrible mistake. If ever you pass up on the chance to watch Mike Todd dance like the flower child he is, and by a bonfire no less, you’ve made a poor choice. ICS, or Integrated Capstone Seminar,  is a combination of periods 2, 3, 4 and the sociology, english, environmental science, and government classes. Led by Chad Zmolek, Joe Brekke, and Mike Todd, heads began to turn last year at word of the radically unconventional class.

I never realized the power of a group before this class. We are a community, and we hold each other to a high standard,” said senior Michael Burke.  Recently, the group went on a camping trip to study an Iowan ecosystem. They got the opportunity to wade through a marsh, learn how modern farming practices change how water is viewed, and a local farmer spoke on how water travel impacts land. Brekke says he’s gotten emotional out on field studies more than once. Seeing their class come into fruition has been “absolutely gratifying. We knew this could work.”

Brekke doesn’t know what’s in ICS’s future. “That’s going to be a hallmark of what we’re doing. It’s going to change every year depending on who is in the class, what’s in the headlines, and what opportunities present themselves to us.”  Though he can’t predict what will come, he does know that the work students are doing “is going to have an absolute impact on a real audience.”

“The amount of support Ames High has shown is incredible. It’s been an adjustment for everyone here, but Spence, Terry Lowe, and Kate Zerbert in particular have been willing to drop what they’re doing and help,” said Mike Todd. With more time, Mr. Todd appreciates the class’s ability to do meaningful work. The progressive setup helps beyond having the time to talk about complicated issues, as Todd points out, “the real world doesn’t work like school.”

A website is coming out soon so the public can see updates and pictures of trips and in-class work.