By Krestin Bahr

As we near the end of the 2016-2017 school year, it was important for me to review two new programs that we added in the high school this year in the Eatonville School District: Computer Science AP (APCS) and Environmental Science AP (APES).

These two additions to EHS had a strong student enrollment. To capture the year, I asked to speak to the students in mid-May. This discussion took place the week after their AP exams. If the students score a 3-5 out of five total, depending on the college or university, they will receive college credit.

Eatonville School District chose to pay for the AP test for every child who wished to take it this year. I had no preconceived ideas before we met, but I was impressed with what I received from these students.

There were two groups of students. APES was primarily underclassmen and APCS was an eclectic group of sophomores to seniors, so a true mix.

Below are the questions and responses between me (KB) and the students (APES and APCS).

KB: Why did you want to take this class?

APES: "I want to go to college and take science." "Want to do some type of conservation, but don't want to become political." "It was a free college credit."

APCS: "It will lead to computer programming." "Want to go into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field, it is tied with math modeling and coding."

KB: What was interesting that you discovered?

APCS: "Thought I was bombing the class, but realized it was graded on a curve." "The class was harder than any other class, as it moved a lot faster." "Surprising how hard the lessons were." "Surprised how the AP test was not as hard as our class tests. We were very prepared."

APES: "The AP exam was surprisingly easy as the writing was similar to our tests."

KB: What did you find frustrating?

ST: "We had to fast forward information, that now, after the test, we are getting a chance to go back to learn those topics we skipped." "Had to create a performance task in Explorer: code an app for something useful as a recent innovation - had to make an artifact/nontextual to prove it." "We were given 20 hours at home/class to create the performance task."

_ We had to create a different frame of mind to think about issues such as; how we do things in the west, like driving cars, etc. and how it affects the atmosphere and how we do not want to give this up. It is an eye opener. It makes you want to change your life. However, there are two sides to every story and it is hard to see both sides - economy and the world. How can we meet in the middle to save the environment?

 

KB: What should I know about?

 

Having some background would be helpful, especially in math.

I had average grades, but after taking APES, it made me see that I could get an “A” here, and it was so rigorous and challenging, and I was good at it. I am now getting good grades in all my classes.

I hated math, honestly, we used a different coding system - it made me think and to be open to everyone. It is up to me to take the initiative and it helped me in other areas.

It helped make me think a certain way. It was an eye opener - how things affect and are connected.

I would not have taken the AP test as my family struggles with money. It was wonderful the district paid for the test.

 

Therefore, as I sat and listened, writing as much as I could capture - my inner cheerleader was chanting, “E.H.S. is awesome!” These children signed-up in good faith to take a class they did not know much about. The staff has worked so hard to have the knowledge and the trust from the students, that they took a gamble. Any adult would have been so proud of the complex, serious way these teens discussed mindset, world environmental problems, teamwork, rigorous challenges, and computer science terms. I had never heard such phrases as abstractions, and computational artifacts in high school student conversation, nor really ever!

A key component in College Board Advanced Placement Classes is around creativity and innovation, as well as collaboration and communication. I am so proud of all of the students who seemed to come alive with stories, examples, recommendations, and

personal integrity. Thank you to the teachers and students who have made this endeavor a success.

Well done! Congrats to the first year of two successful programs.

 

Krestin Bahr is superintendent of the Eatonville School District.