The JCPS Backpack Defense and how to prepare


Students are able to access their Backpacks three different ways; however, all ultimately lead to this same menu page. Photo by Isabella Bonilla.

Isabella Bonilla

The JCPS Backpack is a virtual portfolio where students upload “artifacts” to show what they’ve learned over the course of their high school career. Students must upload at least two artifacts to each of the different Success Skill categories, but only need one artifact for the School Signature category.

This makes for a total of at least 11 artifacts. Artifacts may be school papers, art projects,  pictures of projects and things of the like. The interpretation for what form an artifact can take is open-ended as long as it reflects the student’s school experience and demonstrates the qualities of said skill category. That means YPAS students can upload footage of a live performance or VA students can upload photos of physical artwork; they just have to show it meets a certain category criteria. 

What exactly does the Backpack Defense look like?

Once a student has completely filled out their virtual portfolio, they will choose three different categories from which to present an artifact in addition to their School Signature item. This means that even though there has to be a minimum of 11 items in the Backpack, the student only has to present four.

Students will present these in slideshow form. What the slideshow looks like is fairly open-ended, but counselors encourage students to include an “about me” slide and at least one slide per artifact presented. Visuals are also encouraged. Overall professionalism and appropriateness is a must. The rubric provided can serve as an excellent guideline for how students may set up their presentation. 



Presentations will last around 10-15 minutes and a student’s audience may include administrators, teachers or guest professors. Mrs. Lete and Mrs. Causey will be the primary administrators running the Backpack Defenses. Students may contact either individual or visit the library for additional help. 

How to find your backpack

Students can access the JCPS Backpack a few different ways. Students may go through, or by finding the Backpack icon in their Google waffle icon (though it’s noted that around 10 percent of students encounter difficulties with this route, according to Mrs. Causey). All of these access points require the same JCPS student credentials, or whatever username and password students use to log into their JCPS Google Classroom/school devices. 

An overview of the JCPS Backpack and greater access to explanatory materials can be viewed here. You may also find this information by going to the duPont Manual High School website and selecting Manual Backpack, located under the Links heading.

Backpack Defense Checklist

  1. Have at least two artifacts in each of the five categories (Prepared and resilient learner, Effective communicator, Emerging innovator, Globally and culturally competent citizen and Productive collaborator) and at least one artifact in the School Signature category.
  2. Each artifact has both boxes filled out in a professional manner, one about what learning experiences led to the creation of the artifact and the other about how the artifact fits in the specific category it was placed in. 
  3. Students have created a presentation, having chosen one artifact from three different categories of their choice plus their School Signature item to present.  
  4. Students have signed up for a defense session date on Mrs. Lete’s office door (located in the main office)
  5. Defend your backpack in front of the panel! Make sure to wear professional attire and understand that the administrators are here to help and support you. 

Every JCPS senior must pass their Backpack Defense as part of their high school graduation requirement. This process will begin October 14, continuing on select dates throughout the school year with times available before, after and during school. A student may receive no more than four “I’s” (incomplete marks) in order to pass their defense; otherwise, they must redo it until they do pass. Students may see the available dates and sign up for a time on Mrs. Lete’s door, located in the main office.

The class of 2022 will be the last group of students to have had no prior experience with this process, as other classes have had to defend their backpacks to graduate middle school.