New AP classes added to master schedule

Coming fall 2014, Puyallup High School will be offering two new Advanced Placement courses: AP Studio Art and AP Physics I.
“I think the last few years we have done a really nice job of adding our AP offerings to Puyallup High School,” Principal Jason Smith said. “We want to add more AP classes to give more students a chance to take a variety of different courses. AP Art is a class we are really excited about. [The class] is really a huge portfolio and is a really great chance for students to demonstrate their art ability with a high level of rigor. It is really designed for kids that want to do art as a career.”
AP Studio Art will be taught by art teacher Dorrie Coleman.
“The class will be run kind of like an independent study so every student will be working on their own thing whether it is two-dimensional drawing or three-dimensional art. Everybody has their own plan,” Coleman said. “There is a calendar that they have to stick to so it is not like you could just make whatever and at the end of the semester have an A. There is a definite calendar they have to stick to so every two weeks they have to be producing something. For the drawing and the two-dimensional aspects there are 24 pieces that they have to finish between July and May. If you think about it that is about one [piece] every two weeks, not including winter break.”
Coleman said that the students in her painting class typically complete six or seven paintings a semester in comparison to the AP class.
“Being the first year being run I am a little worried about the timeline and making sure that students know that they are going to have to push themselves. Getting that many pieces done in that amount of time is kind of a hard thing,” Coleman said.
Coleman plans for the workload of the class to be heavier than the workloads of the current art classes.
“[The students] will probably also have an at home piece so they will be working on something here and something at home,” Coleman said. “Like APUSH, there is a summer assignment because there is so much you have to get done during the school year that you have to get started with one or two pieces during the summer.”
In place of an end of the year test, AP Studio Art students will send a compilation of their work to the College Board, where it will be looked at and graded.
“These students will have a digital file that they will digitally send to the College Board. We will also mail five pieces of the drawing and two-dimensional design,” said Coleman.
One of the worries for the new courses is student enrollment.
“We do not know if quite enough students signed up for [the class to run],” Coleman said. “If it does there will be between 18 and 25 people.”
Physics teacher Michael Segers, who will be teaching the new AP Physics, agrees.
“My main worries are that we will not have enough students, particularly juniors, in AP Physics I to run an AP Physics II class in the 15-16 school year,” Segers said. “AP Physics II is contingent on having kind of a critical mass of Physics I students that go on to Physics II.”
Even if not enough students register for a complete period of Physics II the class will still be offered in the 2015-2016 school year.
“Worst-case scenario I would run it as an independent study class. If there were students that were interested in taking AP Physics II and there were only five students then the administration is not going to allow a teacher to teach a class with only five students in it,” Segers said. “What I would have to do is incorporate those Physics II students in a Physics I class and teach it as a split class where the Physics II students were working somewhat independently on a set curriculum and then I would be teaching Physics I.”
The Physics class is evolving into two courses because the AP Board changed the curriculum for the class.
“That is the thing about AP classes: it is a national curriculum,” Smith said. “[The AP Board] changed it to a two-year program instead of a one-year program and we actually found out that the Physics class that we were teaching was actually harder than the first year of AP Physics. It really just made sense.”
The change in curriculum will be beneficial to the students taking the class.
“There is this huge scope of stuff to cover in AP Physics right now and it is really tough to get it all covered with any type of lab experience,” Segers said. “The course is changing to make it more lab based and a little bit more relaxed and not such a firehose of information every day, which is what AP Physics currently has turned into where we have to cut corners on labs.”
According to Segers, the Physics course will teach material that one has to learn to go into technical fields such as engineering. It is recommended that students take AP classes.
“At Puyallup High School we think that every student should take at least one AP class because of the rigor, the career and college readiness that it can get you and we think it is important,” Smith said.