The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Next Generation

April 22, 2010

Advanced Placement classes at Pymatuning Valley High help students get an early start on their college degrees

ANDOVER —  With the arrival of spring and temperature changes, it is very tempting for students to put down their school work and go and enjoy the beauty of outside, but not all students are letting loose – there are some who are buckling down! This year at Pymatuning Valley an even larger group of students than usual is finishing up the final stages in the courses they have been taking all year, in order to take the Advanced Placement tests the first two weeks of May. If they pass the tests, these students can possibly earn college credit and ultimately save thousands of dollars for their future! The AP classes offered at PV are in line with the program created by The College Board, the organization that also administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test.  AP classes provide willing and academically prepared high school students the opportunity to study and learn at the college level.

“At PV we offer five AP courses: English literature, English language, calculus, U.S. government and U.S. history,” said PV guidance counselor Patricia Kirby.

Kirby says that in order to offer these programs teachers need to have a specialized syllabus that needs to be approved by The College Board, and they need to attend special workshops.

“The teachers really need to go above and beyond, and we are privileged to have faculty that want to go that extra mile,” Kirby said.

One of those staff members and the most recent addition to the AP program is Jerry Bals. Bals teaches AP U.S. history and AP U.S. government, two courses that have been added to PV’s catalog of classes. These classes both offer an in-depth study of U.S. government or U.S. history and are ideal for a student who wants to expand his or her knowledge and earn college credit, says Bals. He also said that having these courses benefits the entire school by increasing the prestige and overall knowledge base of the student body. In order to help prepare students for the test, Bals uses different methods such as lecture, writing essays, presentations and practice test.

Another above and beyond staff member is the AP calculus teacher Sharla Urchek.  Urchek, the most experienced AP teacher in PV’s terrific trio, helps students prepare every day by answering all questions and by giving many example AP problems.  Urchek frequently comes in before school and stays after the school day is over to work with her students to help them with all of the problems they may be encountering.

Rounding out the terrific trio is the English literature and English language teacher, Amy Moyer. Moyer stepped into the big shoes of  Janet Britton who retired at the end of the 2008 school year. Moyer is off to a great start; whether diving into Shakespearean literature such as “Macbeth” or helping the language class to organize and create a reasoned argument, students in Moyer’s class are getting ready for the tests and are feeling prepared.

PV senior Olivia Holt has put her schedule to the limits by taking a load of three AP classes, and it is her second year of AP classes. She has AP government, AP calculus and AP English language after having already been successful in AP literature as a junior.

“I have to stay motivated and organized because there is a giant workload in the classes,” Holt said.

When asked how much different an AP class was from a regular class, Holt responded with, “We do twice as much work in a shorter amount of time.”

Even with all the pressure of the courses, Holt still smiles because she knows the rewards will be great from all her hard work. She will be given the opportunity to earn college credit, and these courses prepare students for college by not only showing them the level of difficulty but the organizational and good time management skills that are critical to future successes.

If any students are interested in taking AP courses, teacher Jerry Bals says, “If you’re serious, and you want to expand your experience of the world around you, then these are the classes for you.”

For more information about the AP programs offered at PV contact Mrs. Kirby at PVHS.

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