The OA Memoir Portfolio faces challenges

Rachel Yoon, Staff Artist

The Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD) recently mandated a capstone project for all grade levels. Introduced as a meaningful addition to the Oxford curriculum, the project has instead sparked controversy within the Oxford body—and for good reason. Although the capstone can serve as an elevated experience and college preparation for students, Oxford’s delivery of the project has several flaws that, if not addressed, can interfere with the district’s goals and expectations.

According to Dr. Fried, the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, the capstone project aims to measure district students’ success by compiling the work they have completed throughout high school and assessing their ability to reflect upon the 5Cs. 


“What we are doing via the capstone project is positioning our students to not only understand the traditional content, but develop their skills, voice, purpose, and passion for the future. This is going to put them in a position where they are truly life ready and college ready,” Fried said.


However, students and admin are not on the same page regarding this matter. The district may have a clear vision for the capstone project, but this message is poorly communicated to the staff and student body. Different clusters are in different phases of implementation, and some still have yet to introduce the portfolio. Other confusion concerns the amount of work required for each class, the layout of the OA memoir portfolio, and the purpose behind the sudden establishment of a complex project. 


According to Mrs. Vosskuhler, the 5Cs coach, the portfolio is a recycled version of an old Oxford capstone project run about a decade ago. Instead of having to compile hundreds of separately written reflections into huge binders, students are now able to organize their thoughts into an online eKadence page. 


Although simplifying the project was a smart move by admin, students are still confused and overwhelmed by the lack of detailed instruction and a clear introduction to the project. Because the program was pulled from an older version and imposed on a new generation of students and teachers, the purpose of the memoir and its expectations weren’t conveyed properly. 


As a result of this miscommunication, many students feel stressed and burdened by the perceived complexity of the project. With little but news of the performance tasks and 5 Cs reflections to be done in each class, it’s easy for students to view the capstone as nothing but a tedious and meaningless chore. Not only is the work-heavy aspect of the project heavily emphasized, but the “meaningful experience” gets lost in the complaints and frustrations of the students. 


This project may be an insightful opportunity for students to engage with their learning, but for the initiative to truly shape and impact these young individuals, it must be transparent and straightforward. The district cannot, and should not, expect students to find purpose in a project that has no set baseline for present and future expectations.