For the first time in the school’s history, Walnut Grove High School in Loganville is offering an Advanced Placement class to its freshmen students. Specifically, AP Human Geography.

“Offering AP Human Geography to freshmen is a great opportunity for students to be introduced to AP courses,” Ashley Sarrett, Advanced Placement Coordinator at WGHS, said. “Not only at the other schools in the district, but also in the surrounding counties.” 

The school is confident that this course will benefit all parties.

“We are making efforts to increase the number of courses offered, as well as the number of students participating in the program,” Michael Bowden, counselor at the high school, said. “We are also working towards increased AP exam scores. Our school’s leadership has made this a priority for our school.”

Andrew Miller, a 15-year-old freshman at Walnut Grove who enjoys learning and sports, is an AP Human Geography student. He explained the course in his words and talked about why he chose to take it.

“I wanted to challenge myself a little bit more than I had been, so that I could accomplish at a higher level of learning,” Andrew said.

He then talked about how his classes are much different than his other courses.

“My AP class is a ‘flipped class.’ It’s where we take our notes and do most of our reading at home so that we can have longer, in depth discussions in the class,” Andrew said. “This is different than any class that I’ve taken before and I like it. It makes the class more interesting.”

Emily Hill, a 15-year-old freshman at Walnut Grove, has been on the advanced track since middle school is another student who is taking the class.

“I decided last year that I thought being a part of the AP program would be the right decision for me,” Emily said.

Emily loves challenges and was eager to take the class. When she found out there was a 10 -point curve if you took the class, she was even more convinced, so she said “why not?”

When she was asked whether she found it challenging or interesting she claimed, “The class has its ups and downs. Some days are more interesting than others, but it definitely challenges me everyday.”

She was asked to describe some challenges. “The tests can be very hard. You can study the whole unit, but still get a 70 on the test. It’s also quite hard to keep up with all of the material since she doesn’t actually teach it to us.”

This is because of the “flipped learning” technique. A technique that pushes the students to teach themselves, so they have more time for discussion in class.

Austin Sever, a freshman student at Walnut Grove who runs track and is a part of the school’s drama program, was also eager to take the course.

“I wanted to take the course to be apart of the AP program, so I could get a head start when I go to college,” Austin said. “I believe taking AP Human Geography will prepare me for college more than regular advance classes.”

He then discusses the challenges of AP.

“AP is different because you have to be more self reliant,” Austin added. “You have to do work on your own, and the teacher isn't holding your hand through it. I find it more interesting seeing the differences between people throughout the world. It is also more challenging because, like I said before, you have to do work on your own and not wait for a due date.”

All of the students seem to appreciate that the course has more time for discussion. They also all seem to be motivated for a challenge. AP seems to require more effort from the teacher than the students. The class also seems to break the study hard rule. In order to accomplish getting a good grade, students need to develop and understand the material that they are learning.

AP scores at Walnut Grove have steadily increased within the past three years. According to the Walton County School District website, 51.9 percent of students have received a score of over a 3 out of a possible 5 on their AP exams in 2017. This is an increase compared to the 49 percent in 2016 and 48.6 percent in 2015.

However, the school still ranks last place for AP scores in Walton County. The passing scores on AP Test at Monroe Area High School decreased from 75.2 percent in 2016, but the school is still leading the county with 71.4 percent. This is far ahead from second place; Loganville High School, which is currently is ranked at 65.1 percent. The school has seen a significant drop in its’ scores, ranking 73.4 percent in 2016.

Offering AP to freshman students seems to be highly encouraged across Georgia. More and more counties are offering AP to their freshman students. It will push more students to take the AP path and get used to challenges, which will make them better students.

Terell Wright is a freshman at Walnut Grove High School.

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