The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

January 12, 2014

Making brain waves

Hickory AP students excel at classes, exams

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

HERMITAGE — After giving a presentation on the Constitution Party for their advanced placement U.S. government class, the three Hickory High School students are asked their views on the fringe political party.

Coulter Bishop said he shares many of their politically conservative views, while Abby Coupland responded she is more liberal and doesn’t agree with their stances on social, foreign policy and economic issues. Isabella Spadafora straddled the fence, finding favor with some issues but not with others.

It’s a hallmark of AP classes to try to put students into the subjects they are studying, said teacher Pat Cindric.

“I like (AP) classes because they challenge the students,” she said.

Hermitage School District was honored by the College Board for increasing participation in AP classes and student scores on AP exams.

The College Board is a nonprofit association representing universities, college and schools and is dedicated to expanding access to higher education, according to its website.

A letter naming the school district to the AP District Honor Roll, said the award “indicates that the district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are likely to benefit most from rigorous AP coursework.”

Principal Chris Gill said the recognition “provides evidence to the dedication of the teachers, students and entire philosophy of the Hickory High School that we expect their best.”

AP classes are popular at Hickory “because they provide an elevated level of rigor, a challenge for them and an opportunity to add weight to their (grade point averages),” Gill said.

Hickory offers about a dozen AP classes, adding computer science and U.S. history this year to a slate that includes calculus, statistics, chemistry, biology, physics, French, Spanish and language and composition.

Some AP classes require students to do work over the summer.

Gill said AP classes are designed to give students skills and the problem-solving ability they will need to succeed in college, the military and whatever careers they choose.

In a recent project for Cindric’s AP U.S. government classes, teams of students created presentations on political parties, and their presentations included posters, pamphlets, computer slides and even cookies.

As the Constitution Party team shows, the assignment also brought together students with differing views to work on a common project.

“When you push them to think creatively, there is a lot there,” Cindric said of her students. “They are really processing it.”

She said she enjoys her AP classes, even though it requires a much higher level of preparation on her part.

In her AP U.S. government class, she deals with current government issues – foreign policy, gay marriage, gun control, abortion – which requires a near constant review of sources for the latest information.

The result of the efforts of her and her students – she hopes – are students who enter voting booths informed about the issues and the candidates, and are able to challenge politicians and examine what works and doesn’t.

“They are our future,” Cindric said of her students. “They’re the voters we want.”