Students reflect on lack of advanced classes

“I think the school is limiting a lot of the students that could gain an advantage early in their high school career. Being introduced to more content early on would really help later on in life, especially as a senior,” senior Ky Heon said. “I see a lot of freshmen out there, some sophomores, who are advanced and I know could take certain AP courses that could be offered to them.”

This is the story of one of many students at San Marin who feel that they do not have enough options open to them early in their high school career. While the AP classes are open to all students apart from freshmen, some sophomores and juniors believe that they don’t receive enough preparation for advanced classes. Furthermore, the Honors classes that the school currently offers aren’t available to freshmen or sophomores.

For some juniors and seniors, the lack of challenging courses has been seen as a hindrance throughout. Looking back at their first two years at the school, many upperclassmen agree that English 9 and 10, which used to have Honors versions offered to freshmen and sophomores, could have been challenging to prepare them for AP Language and Literature.

“Having Honors classes would be good for people who are ahead as well as for people who are behind because everyone could learn at their own pace depending on which class they are in,” junior Eva Brandis said.

Some students believe that the availability of advanced classes for underclassmen is lower compared to programs like that of Redwood High School or Marin Catholic, where freshmen have the option to take Honors Algebra, Biology or Global Studies. Sophomores at these schools can take Honors Chemistry, Western Civilization, Geometry and Spanish. Marin Catholic students also have the option to take Honors English classes in their freshman and sophomore years. Many sophomores say that they feel limited by the lack of the variety of available classes.

“I think some students have enough work on their hands, but if there are enough students who want a challenge, then sure, they should be able to take these classes,” sophomore Rohan Ayyar said.

Other students, like sophomore Jackson Hilton, believe that school already offers enough advanced classes to underclassmen.

 

“I don’t think that underclassmen need the option. Nearly all freshmen couldn’t handle the workload, and the same goes for a lot of sophomores,” Hilton said.

For students who feel they have the potential to take these classes, the principal option is to take courses over the summer. However, students that have taken these summer courses say that having to pack the content of a course that would have taken two semesters at school was stressing. Hilton, who took Precalculus over the summer in order to take AP Calculus this year, finished the course within the space of 30 days.   

From the administration’s point of view, certain reasons led to the elimination of many of the Honors classes. The most concerning of these issues was the perceived gap that formed between Honors and non-Honors students, primarily because of the labels that accompanied these classes. Kimberly Laabs, co-chair of the math department and AP Calculus teacher, said she believes that removing these types of labels will be beneficial to the school as a whole.

“I feel strongly that when we start with AP or Honors courses with freshmen, it starts dividing people early,” Laabs said. “I think we’ve done a lot to solve this issue, which is to look at making high quality classes, and that way we can bring everybody up to an area where they have a foundation to take those AP classes in junior and senior year.”