All six of Cherokee County School District’s high schools are expanding their college coursework options for the upcoming school year.
Five Cherokee County high schools were selected to receive grant funds through DonorsChoose.org to add more rigorous Advanced Placement science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses as part of Google’s Global Impact Awards.
“Any time a school can expand and diversify their AP menu it benefits students with different strengths and passions,” Etowah High Principal Keith Ball said. “The more exposure students have to college courses the better they
will perform in college.”
Etowah Creekview, River Ridge, Sequoyah and Woodstock high schools will offer additional courses as part of the AP STEM Access Program. Separate from the grant program, Cherokee High School is adding an additional AP STEM course.
The $5 million grant program was created by Google to increase minority and female participation in AP STEM courses. Schools were chosen to receive grant funds based on their potential to increase minority and female participation and the likelihood of those students to earn a score of 3 out of 5 or higher on their AP exams, which is the score at which most colleges and universities will grant course credit.
Ball said more than half of the AP courses at Etowah are taught by females and minorities. He credited the teachers at Etowah for the school’s success in AP courses, and said the best way to recruit students is through the teachers.
River Ridge High School has offered AP courses for three years and will add four more AP courses for the upcoming school year, the most of any CCSD school. New AP courses to be offered at River Ridge in the 2013-14 school year are: AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science and AP Physics C.
River Ridge Principal Darrell Herring said the school will offer a total of 21 AP courses and said the grant funds will be used to get “books, lab equipment, manuals,” and “initial equipment for technology” to support the new classes.
Woodstock High School will offer the most AP courses of any CCSD high school in the upcoming school year, 22 total. Principal Paul Weir said the classes give students access to an advanced curriculum, industry certification opportunities, the potential to access Georgia Technical Institute distance learning opportunities and the chance to earn AP credit in fine arts for the first time. In the upcoming school year, Woodstock will add AP Calculus BC to their list of offered AP STEM courses.
Weir said Woodstock High School took actions to increase participation by minorities and females in their AP STEM courses, like marketing to nontraditional enrollments through their career fair and business expo.
Sequoyah High School will offer 21 AP courses in the upcoming school year, with the addition of AP Computer Science A and AP Chemistry. Sequoyah Principal Elliot Berman said additional materials and supplies will be procured using money from the grant.
“Sequoyah High School is excited about being selected to receive the AP STEM grant,” Berman said. “The master teachers who have been selected to teach the STEM grant courses are looking forward to teaching them.”
Creekview and Etowah high schools will both offer 19 AP courses in the 2013-14 school year, adding two more AP courses than each previously offered.
Creekview will add AP Biology and AP Physics C to their list, and Principal Adrian Thomason said the school see’s these additions as an opportunity to help “all students to reach their potential and succeed.”
“Our counselors meet individually with students to define academic options and encourage them to participate,” Thomason said.
Thomason said Creekview has offered AP courses for seven years and the additional AP classes being added will “offer students options as they explore their academic interests at advanced levels.”
“These enhanced opportunities allow for academic exploration that can lead to career implications for CCSD students in the future,” Thomason said.
Etowah High School will add AP Calculus BC and AP Environmental Science for the upcoming school year and Ball said 19 AP courses is the most Etowah has ever offered. He said Etowah has increase their number of AP course offerings by six over the past three years.
Ball said the grant funds his school receives will be used for “teacher training and vertical articulation with the middle school to create pre-AP courses.”
Cherokee High School will be adding an additional AP STEM course separate from the Google grant, bringing the total number of AP courses at Cherokee to 19. Principal Debra Murdock said one of Cherokee’s primary education goals is to add “rigor and relevance” to each student’s curriculum.
“We have worked to expand our thriving pathway program with two new options for students: health care and engineering,” Murdock said. “The addition of the AP Physics C course will give our future engineers and science majors yet another opportunity to add relevant and rigorous coursework to their high school experience.”
Murdock said the school has “terrific participation by minorities and females,” and said Cherokee uses various methods to encourage and counsel students with AP potential to participate.
All eligible high schools in the Cherokee County district have been named Georgia AP STEM and AP STEM Achievement Schools for high participation and passage levels.
“Mastery of STEM knowledge is crucial to successful careers in many of the current and emerging fields in the global marketplace, which overall offer the highest pay and strongest job security, and we want all of our students to have the greatest opportunity to succeed in these arenas,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo. “We’re investing in STEM for our students and appreciate the support — both locally and at the national level in the form of grants such as this one — that makes it possible to build upon that foundation.”