More AP classes!!



Attending Orcutt Academy charter school, though a blessing in many ways, does have its disadvantages as well, one of them being limited amount of classes available. While all the typical core classes are here at Orcutt Academy, students crave to learn more about their passions outside of these subjects. 


This year OA has a total of eight AP classes: Studio Art Drawing, Spanish, Biology, Statistics, Government, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, English Language and Composition, and English Literature and Composition. While these courses are the most popular among students, the school fails to offer a wider variety of available classes. This is detrimental for those desiring to learn deeply about a specific subject. Take a person with a science major, for example. Here at OA, the only related AP class is AP Biology. What about AP Chemistry or Environmental Science? Unavailable. And the situation is only getting worse.


Two years ago, the school offered AP Physics and AP Chinese as optional classes but were terminated due to the lack of interest in students. Having taken a total of 6 AP classes, senior Isabel Guerrero decided to comment on the issue stating, “There were 1 or 2 classes that I was interested in taking and decided ‘I’ll take this class this year and this one next year’ but then it was no longer a class.” She believes that the College Now! Program – a special program that allows high school students to take college classes at Allan Hancock College – is the major cause of this problem. “At Hancock, you take a class for only one semester and knock out what would have been a full year for you in high school. Being here every single day is different. You can’t really equate the experience of taking a College Now! class and an AP class,” Guerrero reveals. She shares her own experience with the program saying that last year she took AP English Language and Composition at the same time as ENG 101 at Hancock (the equivalent of AP English Language) and feels she learned little, if anything, from the college course. So is it really beneficial for Orcutt Academy to offer the students the opportunity to take college classes that are equivalent to AP courses? 


Similar to Guerrero, senior Lucas Kantorowski, another high-achieving student, is also bothered by the inconsistency of the school’s available classes. He reveals, “I took AP Physics last year and it was a really fun class. It’s kinda sad to see that it’s no longer here.” However, Kantorowski’s theory for the cause of this situation is a bit different from Guerrero’s. He believes the lack of student interest definitely reduces the variety of Orcutt Academy’s classes. “A class won’t appear if not enough students sign up for it. If a student is really passionate about a subject but is limited by the school’s facilities, they can’t do what they really want to do. And that’s just unfortunate,” he states. Being the STEM majors that they are, Guerrero and Kantorowski wished the school would offer classes like AP Environmental Science and AP Chemistry for them to enroll in.


According to mathematics teacher Ms. Penk, when students sign up for classes at the beginning of the year, the school looks at the number of people who requested each class. This determines which course is in demand and which course is lacking student interest. Ms. Penk shares her own personal experiences with this complicated process stating, “Take what happened to Statistics class this year: only eleven students requested that class, so the school was going to drop it. I didn’t want to see that happen, so I asked if they would let me teach it if I could get enough students to take it. They said yes. But what did lose because of that? Bridge to Algebra 2.” Because of the limited amount of faculty, Ms. Penk had to lose a class in order to gain the opportunity to teach a more important class. So what can we do as students to make sure this doesn’t happen?


It is our job as students to take advantage of the opportunities given to us, such as the right to choose the classes that we would like to enroll in. It is not the responsibility of the student to persuade others to join a course; however, we do have the power to encourage others to develop the same interests as us. We must convince the authorities to put the students’ education first and improve the curriculum to guide us into college. It is without a doubt impossible to satisfy every single student that attends Orcutt Academy High School, but we could do our best to please, at least, the majority of the school.