SARAH HENSLER//JEREMY LUNDBERG
Sophomore Maddie Hood laughs at the idea of being stressed out as she adds color to her AP European History poster. To Hood, stress and school go hand in hand. “Therapy dogs are good for AP Euro students. The number of AP classes you take is the number of times you should see the therapy dogs in a week.” Hood is among hundreds of other kids who take on the rigor of AP Social Studies classes every year.
The most important part of an AP class is the defining element of the title, “Advanced Placement”. When a student achieves a passing grade in an AP course, their overall grade is raised one level higher than it was before. Students who maintain the elusive 4.0 unweighted grade, receive the honor of a 5.0 weighted grade — a step above commonly accepted perfection. When Sophomore Trevor Fox was asked about the possibility of only receiving a B as his final grade, he replied, “I’d probably be depressed all summer.” Trevor reported having an A at the moment, and that losing it would be a great loss.
College credit is also a powerful motivator, as some colleges accept AP credits in place of normal college courses. The idea of being able to be exempted from classes in college to take more courses that drive interest is one of many other reasons students decide to replace normal classes with the rigor of AP curriculum. However, this is provided that students pass the nationwide AP test in May and earn AP credits for the class they enrolled in.
Mountain Vista is unique for placing AP European History as a Sophomore course. When told about this AP set up at Mountain Vista, Heritage High School Senior Melissa Farmer and ThunderRidge High School Junior Makenna Green gasped in unison. “At Heritage [High School], Sophomores can’t take AP classes,” Farmer said. “You have to be at least a junior. It’s just too hard.” This is a testament to the determination of Vista students on how many of them accomplish grades of 4s and 5s on the exam in what Makenna Green called “the hardest AP Social Studies course out there”.
Despite the stress, AP European History teacher, Katie Price, is a lifesaver for sophomores. “I missed 6 days of school,” Sophomore Audrey Brown reported, “and [Mrs. Price] has been really helpful in getting me caught up. It really takes the stress away when teachers are helpful when you miss school.” Mrs. Price takes the time to involve her students in what they’re learning, and she even has humorous catchphrases to encourage them, such as “Success!” and “It just feels right”.
AP courses are an extremely unique opportunity for Vista students. While more exhausting and stressful compared to a standard history course, they offer a much larger reward at the end of the year: the opportunity to achieve college credit and have a boosted GPA. The most important part of the course is to remain calm and focus on the end goal. Or maybe, take advantage of therapy dogs as Maddie Hood suggested.