Students advocate for more AP classes

Students advocate for more AP classes

Ale Benjamin, Opinions Editor

Staples students seek challenge. Considering they’re offered a grand total of 22 Advanced Placement (AP) classes, ranging from Multivariable Calculus to Studio Art, many find the trial they desire.

According to Staples’ 2013 profile, around 497 Staples students took 1,108 AP exams last year, a 58 percent participation rate.

In addition, Staples offers more AP classes than most other schools in the area, next to schools like New Canaan with 15, Ludlowe with 16 and Greenwich with 21.

A curriculum this rich is constantly in motion, and Staples’ variety of APs available is sometimes expanded.

Just this year, AP Human Geography was rumored to be headed to Staples, but Social Studies Department head James D’Amico says this is no longer true.

“Originally, when we had proposed Contemporary World Studies as a required junior year course, part of that plan was to have a similar [option] at the AP level,” D’Amico said.

However, Human Geography would not have been effective within the social studies department without a mandatory counterpart, and the plan died.

Students have pondered other new AP courses like Art History and Psychology, as well.

An A-level art history class exists but doesn’t always garner enough students to run.

Sophie Call ’16 and her friends tried rallying students for a class last year but couldn’t find enough. However, Call’s strong passion for the subject fuels her determination.

“I’ve always found it really interesting. I love surrealism because it really makes you think, and sometimes you don’t understand it, but that’s also its point,” Call said.

Call hopes others will find incentive to investigate the topic.

“Having an AP class could encourage people to learn,” she said.

Students may also seek extended learning in psychology, a very popular half-year elective.

“It is definitely a subject that requires a lot of thinking and understanding, but, at the same time, there is a lot of information to tackle,” Claire Sampson ’15 said.

However, psychology teacher Rob Rogers sees no need for a curriculum change.

“The joy of Intro to Psychology is it’s a subject that we can all buy into and can use our own life stories to help us understand,” he said. “If a student wants more, they’ll find it. But I think I’ve only seen one kid take the AP Psychology test in the past three to four years.”

Trumbull High School junior Jacob Robbins currently takes AP Psychology, one of about 16 AP courses at Trumbull. Robbins says the popularity of the class strongly supports it. The course’s four full classes total 120 students.

Robbins described a creative project the class once did that demonstrated the psychology of observational learning.

“One group taught Irish step dancing. Another person taught fish tail braids, [another] how to make origami,” he said.

Many at Staples might enjoy such unique challenges. However, D’Amico identifies a key hurdle in adding any new AP course: sufficient teaching staff.

“If we want to add a new course, we want to make sure we have enough teachers to teach it,” he said.

He notes this as a possibility for an AP Art History class.

“[Teachers] usually propose things under their areas of expertise, and, as far as I know, we don’t have any art history majors,” he said.

D’Amico says AP Psychology has been requested before but never with serious enough intent to ignite curriculum change. He praises the current psychology course for focusing intently on student interest but understands desire for an AP level course.

 “AP is a brand just like Apple or Coke; it’s a reliable thing. Students are attracted to that, and I don’t blame them,” he said.