Certificate of Emphasis

The Certificate of Emphasis (COE) program gives highly motivated Barstow upper school students the opportunity to conduct advanced, hands-on study in an area of special interest.
The project-based learning experience emphasizes student initiative, passionate engagement and independent work reflecting a deep understanding of their subject. The COE program involves three main components: coursework, mentoring and networking with professionals in their field, and a capstone project of the student's design.
“I knew when I got into upper school, I wanted to do something much bigger with the service I was already doing.”

COE Structure

Barstow’s Certificate of Emphasis is designed to take two years, though each student’s timeline varies. Over the course of the program, each COE student will:
  • Coursework – Complete three semesters of specialized coursework.
  • Capstone – Conceive, plan and complete an independent capstone project that progresses through a series of milestones.
  • Lab – Enroll in two semesters of COE Lab, assessed at 0.5 Honors credits per semester. COE Labs provide structure, recognition and accountability for each student's independent work.
  • Mentor – Each student works directly with a mentor in their chosen field. Mentors provide a first-hand perspective of working in the field. They also advise students as they select and complete their capstone project. Mentors must pass a background check and make contact with their student a minimum of twice a month.
Interested students should email program coordinator Kay Hopkins.

COE Strands

List of 5 items.

  • 21st Century Communications

  • Engineering, Architecture and Environmental Sustainability

  • Globalization, Social Justice and International Politics

  • Mind, Body, Health

  • Pursue Your Passion

COE Adviser

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Kay Hopkins

    Kay Hopkins 

    LS Librarian
    (816) 277-0308

A Parent's Perspective

COE Milestones


List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • What courses fulfill program requirements?

    All elective courses are eligible. In addition to coursework, students are expected to seek online resources and conduct online research.
  • What does the program cost?

    There is no additional cost for the COE program, including mentorship and advising, support for project completion or administrative fees.
  • Who is eligible?

    This program is designed for upper school students who have completed the COE enrollment agreement. Students may join the program during their freshman, sophomore, and in some cases, junior year.