Innovative learning took center stage Tuesday as local students participated in an event dedicated to honoring those who love an educational challenge.
Students from Thomas County Middle School visited Thomas County Central High School in honor of AP Day. AP stands for Advanced Placement. The day, declared by the Georgia General Assembly, recognizes AP classes taught in Georgia public high schools. TCMS students audited AP classes taught at TCCHS.
TCCHS Assistant Principal and AP Coordinator Jim Rehberg said AP Day is “a great opportunity” for the school to promote its Advanced Placement program and share what happens within its AP classrooms.
“These students are the future of our program so it’s never too early to pique their interests,” he said.
Approximately 100 TCMS students participated. They were divided into two groups: one spent third and fourth periods on campus, the other fifth and sixth periods. Each group was spilt in half and observed two separate AP classes. They also ate lunch on campus.
“I wanted to participate today to see what it would be like to work in an AP class,” eighth-grader Bryce Elizabeth Barwick, 13, said. “Knowing that I will take some at the high school, I thought it would be great to see what it’s like.”
Classes witnessed included AP Physics, AP Calculus, AP U.S. History, AP World History, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Psychology, and AP Environmental Science.
Eighth-grader Kaleb Ward, 14, found Amy Ponder’s AP Psychology class to be his favorite part of the day.
“I enjoyed Mrs. Ponder’s class most because her class is ‘low stress’ and relaxed,” Ward said. “It has a fun atmosphere.”
Ponder said she “found activities that all students could relate to” in order to prompt discussions and provide reference on the class’s current topic: stress.
“Fear is relative to all people,” she said. “Since we are studying stress in class, I wanted to show that fear is learned and is relative to the subjective experience.”
TCCHS AP teachers said the event also gives students a chance to shine.
“AP Day gives students a chance to show off the hard work they do in class,” AP teacher Laura Kornegay said. “I hope that it will create enthusiasm in both current and future students.”
Eighth-grader Kamryn Corbin, 14, said her time in high school classrooms was a different experience but helped prepare her for next year.
“Being in the high school class setting was a new experience that was a little scary and stressful,” she said. “This experience will help me get ready for next year when I move over here.”
High school students also enjoyed the experience and hope the younger kids’ exposure to the lessons helped them to see how fun AP classes can be.
“We did a normal lesson and shared some personal examples of things we have learned,” AP student Austin Yeomans said. “Especially in AP Psychology, the students got a good idea of how enjoyable an AP class can be. It’s not just hard work, and it’s definitely worth it.”
AP Psychology student Anna Jense said having the younger students in her class was “a very different experience” but she was glad they came.
“It was a very good experience for them to get a glimpse of high school classes and it allowed high school students to see the upcoming students,” she said.
TCMS teacher Clayton Woodfin, who teaches eighth grade science in the Merit program, said students were “excited about the opportunity” to visit the high school and had positive remarks about the experience.
“I think the day has gone very well,” Woodfin said. “The students have come away with a real sense of what the AP classes are like. A few have even commented that they can’t wait to be able to take the classes.”
AP courses are an important part of high school class offerings, students said.
“AP courses provide a challenge for students and they have the opportunity to earn college credits,” AP Chemistry student Hannah Dixon said.
AP Chemistry student Steven Tran enjoys AP classes because of the challenge.
“They challenge you on subjects of interest,” he said. “I wanted to continue on learning in certain subjects.”
J.P. Mitchell, 14, an eighth-grader, said it is important younger students have the chance to take AP courses.
“Younger students should be offered the chance to take advanced classes because taking them can prepare for college, high school and beyond,” Mitchell said. “They build a bridge for the future.”
Teachers and administrators at both schools say the day was a success and students gained positive experiences.
“It took considerable cooperation between the middle and high schools but everything worked out perfectly,” Rehberg said. “Everyone got to sit in on two classes, have lunch at the high school and enjoy the high school atmosphere for a short while.”
TCMS teacher Leanne NeSmith accompanied students on the trip.
“I hope the students are inspired and encouraged to pursue the highest academic opportunities in our school system,” she said.
TCMS administrator Jamie Thompson said one of the school’s primary goals “is to prepare students for their educational pursuits at TCCHS.”
“AP Day allows us a great platform to reinforce the academic rigor that we pursue for our eighth grade students,” he said. “Our students are able to see that their attention to their academic pursuits will benefit them at TCCHS. Any time our eighth grade students can visit and experience ‘life’ at TCCHS will benefit them as they prepare to be the freshman class of 2016-2017.”