Tiger Times

Defying the odds

Administration reinstates organization to create more opportunities diversity in AP classes

Illustration+by+Victoria+Van
Illustration by Victoria Van

Illustration by Victoria Van

Illustration by Victoria Van

Story by Misty Lopez and Joseph Rodgers

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The decision must be made once again. A yellow paper with hundreds of choices rests on the table. There’s an academic adviser at the front of the room speaking, but most of what she says is a blur. It’s between advanced placement, dual credit or regular. Regular sounds like the easiest option. Regular sounds like what his parents and teachers expect of him. Regular sounds doable with his job. He can’t afford a dual credit course, and he’s “not smart enough” to pass the AP test, so this is his best bet.

Every year, students are faced with choosing the courses they want to take. These decisions will affect their high school careers and possibly follow them into college. The problem is that sometimes students don’t choose courses that reflect their full academic potential.

“We want to get the word out about the courses that we offer to make sure that all student populations know that it is available, and we don’t want anything to deter someone from participating in higher level courses,” said Carla Dupree, Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction. “This is an initiative that Brad Bailey, our school principal, has been interested in researching for a while now. He expressed his interest in getting our students in higher level classes to take active roles in our district and community.”

What I envision is more of a college environment where our AP and Pre-AP students are supported by [faculty].”

— Carla Dupree

Because of the desire for a more diverse representation in higher level courses and the support that those students could provide, AP Ambassadors was organized. This organization will provide volunteer opportunities among its members to present the potential benefits of enrolling in higher level courses to the TISD district schools.

“I was at the National AP Conference in Austin, and some teachers from the metroplex were talking about trying to get more inclusion among underrepresented groups in their AP classes,” AP U.S. history teacher Chuck Zach said. “Another school tried it on their campus, and I thought it was something we should pursue, so I brought it back and talked to Mr. Bailey about it.”

Ideas as to how the organization can help each and every student accomplish their goals are currently being discussed. The main objective is to prepare every student for college and to help them believe that they can be successful.

“We want to offer sessions during the summer on Wednesdays called ‘Do-nut forget your summer reading,’ and hopefully, we can meet in the library from 10-12 a.m. We wish to encourage people to come with doughnuts and run a bus to pick up students without transportation so they can come and finish their summer reading in groups,” Dupree said. “What I envision is more of a college environment where our AP and Pre-AP students are supported by [faculty]. I want the AP Ambassador students to set up study sessions before and after school in the library. Also, during enrichments for each core subject, I would like to have AP Ambassadors in their area of strength so that maybe the younger students who are in that class can sign up for that enrichment and be tutored.”

The announcement of who will be a part of AP Ambassadors will be Jan. 19.

“I’m really excited about it, and I think it’s the perfect time,” Dupree siad. “I’m hoping that students grab their applications which will be turned into a committee that will review them. We’ll announce AP Ambassadors Jan. 19, and then we’ll start having some organizational meetings. I’m going to reach out to the elementary and middle schools to see if they can host UIL academic events. I’m really excited about the outreach to our younger students in the district.”

I think for underrepresented kids, it’s an opportunity for a door to open that they may not realize is sitting there for them.It’s all about overcoming peer pressure, and earlier hurdles that may have been put in front of them. It opens up a lot of opportunities for kids who are hoping to move onto college.”

— Chuck Zach

The faculty believes that no matter what race, ethnicity, religion or social class, every student can achieve their goals in school to prepare themselves for their future.

“I think for underrepresented kids, it’s an opportunity for a door to open that they may not realize is sitting there for them,” Zach said. “It’s all about overcoming peer pressure, and earlier hurdles that may have been put in front of them. It opens up a lot of opportunities for kids who are hoping to move onto college,” Zach said. “This year’s classes have been the most diverse that I have seen. I would like to be able to look out over the AP classes that I teach and see a population that’s representative of the entire school. It’s an academic challenge for anybody, and it’s open for anyone.”

The TISD district hopes to see success within the students of the community, and with the guidance and encouragement of AP Ambassadors, that vision can become a reality.

“I think it will be beneficial to the freshmen who have questions,” junior Alliyah Vayson said. “A lot of kids don’t take AP courses because their friends aren’t doing it, so it would be good to have people in AP push them. It’s a great opportunity for kids who don’t know if they want to be in AP or not.”

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