Story by Haelee Kim
Associate Opinion Editor
Photo by Noah Kuhn
Associate News Editor
South Pasadena High School’s annual AP Night was held on Tuesday, Jan. 28, advising parents with tips from Stanford’s Challenge Success Program. The presentation followed two weeks of student AP exploration meetings, informing both students and parents about the value and difficulty of AP courses.
Counselor Tracy Ishimaru began the presentation, raising the question of whether there is actually a correlation between the amount of AP classes taken during high school and subsequent success in college. In accordance to the data and the differing variables accounted for by Challenge Success, Ishimaru cited four case studies connected that more AP classes were not necessarily better.
Ishimaru recommended that the best plan of action was to increase the rigor of a students schedule a step at a time, taking one additional class each year and viewing the four years of high school as a trajectory.
The presentation also touched the affordability AP courses, reiterating that while the credit earned through the College Board exams may be eligible for credit upon enrolling in college, many students tended to repeat the course anyway, even if they had passed the AP exam in high school.
Recent research about stress was also included, citing personal data specific to SPHS. Natasha Prime, the school social worker and child welfare counselor, had had her caseload increase within the last couple of years. Just last year, fifty-nine students were on her watchlist for stress, anxiety, or depression.
Former SPHS graduates also shared their insights while at school, either through a video or an on-screen message. Alumni from the classes of 2019, 2018, and 2015—Akash Rathi, Rachel Lu, Grace Kim, and Raymond Yeo; Will Hoadley-Brill, Marta Jerebets, and Jeremy Sharp; Brandon Kim, Glenda Chen, and Karen Hsueh—were quoted in the slideshow, each decring the method of taking APs just to get into college, that too many APs took away from valuable social opportunities, activities, or sleep, or that colleges they ended up attending did not even accept most of their AP scores.
SPHS teachers Mark Afram, Andrew McGough, Ben Ku, Garrett Shorr, and Maryann Nielsen, also touched on their perspectives as instructors of an AP curriculum. The teacher presentation was followed by a Kahoot, where parents were invited to take out their phones to play a short, four question game.
“I really thought that the evening was a good time to come against the fear, misinformation, and drivenness of some of our students, as well as to provide hope, encouragement, and perspective,” Afram said. “[I hope that parents know that] it’s okay for students not to burden themselves with four, five APs, and that they encourage their students to follow their passions and what they really care about.”