Nathaniel Thomas ’25
A relatively recent addition to Chaminade High School’s curriculum is the introduction of AP, or Advanced Placement, courses. In 2018, Chaminade began offering seven AP classes; during the 2022-2023 school year, this number has risen to 15.
AP is a national program that allows students to take college-level courses in high school. These courses culminate with a standardized AP exam in May. Performing well on the AP exam will earn a student college credits—lightening the workload of required classes that they will later take in college. It is important to note that whether one’s college accepts AP credits or not is dependent on the student’s AP scores, as well as the college he chooses to attend. But, even if a student cannot transfer his AP credits to a college, success in AP-level courses displays intellectual rigor and bolsters a student’s resume. Furthermore, many students enjoy the challenge that these courses have to offer.
At Chaminade, students qualify to take AP based on their success in the previous year’s courses, as well as their prior AP participation. Students are often unsure, however, if they want to accept the invitation to participate in AP courses. Is it truly worth it? Several students and teachers were asked this question in order to give current and prospective Flyers a better idea of what these courses entail.
Mr. Gregory Kay ’98 explained that the reason for introducing AP classes was twofold: the administration wanted to give passionate students the opportunity to further explore their interests, and the school received feedback from alumni who felt “behind” compared to college classmates who had taken AP classes in high school. The recent expansion of the AP program was driven by student desire for more courses, as well as a belief that some courses would simply work better than others. “This year,” Kay elaborated, “we switched from AP European History, which we used to offer, to AP World History (Modern), because we felt our curriculum was lacking a global perspective.” Kay added that curricula are reevaluated on an annual basis, but expansions are somewhat limited by the school’s commitment to a liberal arts education, where students are educated in six subjects for four full years.
Current AP students also provided their opinions on the curriculum. Elston Volkerts ’25, who is enrolled in AP Biology and AP World History (Modern) explained his thoughts on Advanced Placement: “For AP World, it’s a lot of information. It’s almost like they designed the class for someone who’s really invested in history to understand. I myself am pretty interested in history, yet I still find the class quite challenging…But, it’s not as intimidating as it seems because there’s a reasonable grading system.’’
Alonso Harris ’24, who takes AP Chemistry, AP Calculus BC, AP United States History, and AP Language and Composition, reflected, “They’re a lot more difficult than regular classes, and they require higher-order thinking. They’re interesting classes, and they help you a lot in preparing for college.”
Lastly, Dylan DeVito ’23, a student in AP Environmental Science, AP United States Government and Politics, and AP Literature and Composition, answered, “I think AP classes are an important tool, especially depending on what career you want to go into. The ability to take college-level classes really prepares you for the next stage of life.”
These comments should be seen as signs of encouragement. If a student believes that he is capable of succeeding in AP-level courses, he should definitely consider taking one or more of them. While the question “Are AP classes worth it?” is ultimately up to the individual to answer, the benefits of taking these rigorous courses are undeniable.