The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 5, 2013

Grand Valley Advanced Placement classes are hard work but provide students an opportunity to earn college credit


For the Star Beacon

ORWELL — This year, Grand Valley High School has introduced three new classes to its schedule, all Advanced Placement classes. With AP Calculus, AP 2-D Drawing and AP English Language and Composition now offered to students, those wanting to challenge themselves and gain collegiate benefits from the experience are able to take advantage of these new opportunities.

In the past, calculus has been taught at Grand Valley for many years, but this year the class has evolved into an AP class. This class overwhelmingly has the most students of the three AP courses. Taught by Donald Dingman, calculus students are expected to keep up with the demanding pace of the lesson in order to perform adequately on tests, which are the sole factor upon which their grades are based.

Said Dingman, “My favorite part of teaching this class is establishing a rigor that challenges students to go above and beyond.”

With so much resting on test grades, Dingman offers some cushion. Students are allowed rewrites on tests, where the student fills out a worksheet detailing why they missed points and how they would have completed the problem correctly.

“Mr. Dingman is a really good teacher; he goes through the material really well,” said senior Josh Forristal. He added, “Rewrites help, too!”

Come May, calculus students who opt to take the AP Calculus test will put their year’s worth of knowledge to the test. Students who pass this grueling test will receive college credit for their efforts.

Significantly smaller in class size, AP 2-D Drawing has only two students. Over the past summer, this AP class required that students who wished to take it complete 20 sketches, five projects and a museum visit. With school in session, these students now have weekly sketches and one project due approximately every two weeks.

According to AP art teacher Anne Peters, “The biggest challenge is the huge amount of work that is required, and making sure the students get the work completed, get the work photographed and get the work uploaded.”

At the end of the school year, AP art students must have at least 24 pieces photographed and uploaded, while five of either those pieces or additional pieces will be sent to the judging facility. Each student’s portfolio will be given a numerical score 1 – 6, where the student must acquire at least a 3 to receive college credit.

AP art student senior Liz Boch said her own greatest challenge is the amount of time versus the workload. However, Boch is up for the challenge. She said, “Not only is the workload an integral part of growing as an artist, but it helps build my portfolio for getting into art school.”

In a middle ground between the two other classes, AP English Language and Composition is taught by Carrie Brumit and has six students. The class coursework is based on studying rhetorical devices, analyzing texts and creating argumentative and synthesized pieces of writing. Students of this class, on average, complete one to two papers a week. These papers are typically written in response to current events or reading material they have studied in class. The students then share their papers with their peers and provide constructive criticism and ways to improve their language skills.

Also taking place in this class is critical discussion. After students read various pieces on a particular topic, they discuss how the authors effectively or ineffectively presented their ideas and what methods they used to execute them.

“I really like the size of our class,” said junior Sabrina Baker. “It’s small, which is helpful because it allows us to have mature conversations about the texts we read.”

Toward the end of the year, AP students in English Language and Composition will take a test that includes a portion where students must read a text and answer multiple-choice regarding the rhetorical devices utilized, and a portion that includes essay writing responses. These students will also be given a score that determines if they receive college credit.

AP classes undoubtedly present a challenge entirely new to the classrooms of Grand Valley, but the students are clearly up for the challenge. With the success of how these AP classes are faring in the high school, there are plans to implement dual-credit coursework into existing classes.