Statesman Course Recommendations

Staffers suggest courses, academic pathways for students to take


AP Euro vs. AP Human Geo vs. Not Taking History

AP European History: If you’re interested in history, make sure you take AP European History (AP Euro)! Although the workload of AP Euro is quite heavy, with extensive nightly reading assignments, it’s a very engaging class. Putting modern issues into perspective is key to learning about the history of western society, as it allows for better understanding of social issues that stem from global conquest dictatorships and which are expressed through the evolution of art, music and writing. Further, all AP Euro teachers are extremely passionate, friendly and knowledgeable. In particular, Bradley and Greycen had Mr. Hannigan and got to roleplay in historical simulations and reenact the French Revolution with a bunch of food. Yep, free food! What more could you possibly need?

AP Human Geography: For those seeking to gain a more in depth understanding of the processes behind concepts like population movement, cultural patterns, political organization, agricultural land use, etc., AP Human Geography (AP Human Geo) is definitely a course worth considering. The work, while a little challenging as it requires students to apply spatial and geographical concepts to analyze different materials like maps, graphs, excerpts, etc, is highly rewarding and bolsters your knowledge of human alterations to the world. Former AP Human Geo students have especially enjoyed learning about the population curve, specifically the different factors that can dictate the size of populations in countries of different developmental stages. All of the teachers are great and can accommodate different types of learning, i.e. aural, visual, etc. In the event that you find yourself struggling with the material, most Human Geography teachers host weekly morning review sessions. All in all, if you plan well and avoid procrastinating, AP Human Geo can be a very fun and enjoyable class!

No History: If you feel like pursuing your other interests rather taking a history course your sophomore year, then no pressure! In the event that neither of those history options appeal to you, but you still have a desire to pursue a course in the realm of social science, there are other options to choose from, like World Religions, Global Relations, etc. Choosing to take a different elective in lieu of a history course, like Latin, or even Journalistic Writing, is another great alternative. You can use this extra slot in your schedule to broaden your horizons and discover something you truly enjoy. 

Separate vs. AMSTUD 

Separate: When taking AP U.S. History (APUSH) and AP Language and Composition (AP Lang.) separately, you can experience both courses delving deeply into their respective topics despite not necessarily being consecutive (although that is certainly a possibility!). Even though the classes aren’t “intertwined,” there is great overlap between the societal and historical topics discussed, from conducting rhetorical analyses about 17th century slavery to examining influential writers and how they shaped public policy during the 20th century. Although you won’t be able to take the individual classes with the same students for two periods, there is a great sense of community developed within each respective class—both courses are informative yet enjoyable. This option is best for students who may feel that the workload of AMSTUD (see more below) may not fit their schedules.

AMSTUD: The entire point of American Studies, dubbed “AMSTUD,” is to provide a perspective on the implications of history. Analyzing the larger, societal impacts of history through the lens of art and literature will enable you to comprehend the nuanced historical context beyond simple facts. With a more in-depth perspective into American History, AMSTUD allows you to better grasp the ideals behind America and truly understand the perspectives of society. With a more divisive modern political environment, understanding the reasons behind different views is incredibly important in order to work with others to progress society. Of course, the workload is a bit higher depending on your teachers, but the comprehensive analysis of American history and resulting knowledge of societal tensions can be extremely beneficial towards future collaboration. 

Science Classes

AP Physics 1: Upon completing Chemistry Accelerated, many find themselves expected to take AP Physics 1, as it is the next presumed step on the science pathway. Though you shouldn’t feel obliged to take this class next, it’s certainly worth considering; in fact, if you already consider yourself a physics aficionado and would love to integrate the course material with the rigor of calculus, AP Physics C could emerge as your first choice. During your time in AP Physics 1, you will learn about topics like mechanics, waves and resistor circuits and participate in numerous engaging labs and activities (prepare to race in cardboard boats!). Making long-lasting physics phriends (that’s a great pun you’ll be seeing frequently during your time in AP Physics 1) caps off the long list of reasons to take physics!

Physics C: AP Physics C has a reputation at Stevenson for being one of the hardest classes as well as among the toughest AP courses around the country. Yes, this reputation is deserved, but it’s also a really rewarding experience. For those of you who sat through math classes wondering how these abstract topics can ever be applicable in real life, Physics C gives you that perspective, showing how many things in the world are, at their core, just an application of math. For example, you can figure out exactly how magnetic charging works through current induction, which seems unthinkable without knowledge of physics. Furthermore, there’s a unique sense of community developed in the classroom as everyone struggles together to understand the course material. Also, I, Greycen, loved Ms. Edstrom’s really amazing supply of pop tarts that she sells for Give-A-Thon all year round. Plus, they’re actually the good flavors, not just the boring strawberry or brown sugar cinnamon (definitely worth it). 

AP Bio: For many people, biology is not a topic they’re familiar with before high school; you should heed notice that AP Biology dives much deeper into the concepts you were exposed to in middle school. At its core, biology aims to explain the mechanisms behind why complex systems work through discussing topics like the evolution of cells and ecology — after all, what is more complex than life itself? Initially trying to better understand the functions behind life fostered a sense of great curiosity as the world from a new perspective began to unravel. This aspect of first-hand discovery is the fundamental importance of biology, and if you seek to develop your sense of exploratory knowledge, biology is definitely the course for you. Even if you have already taken Biology Accelerated, AP Biology is a great way to challenge yourself while also expanding upon content that may be as stale as a decaying apple.

AP Chemistry: For those who enjoyed Chemistry Accelerated and wish to further the boundaries of their knowledge, AP Chemistry is a phenomenal option. Although the first semester of the course reiterates the chemistry fundamentals explained in the accelerated course, these benchmarks allow students to explore more complex topics during the class’s second semester, such as photoelectron spectra and net ionic equations. Learning is supplemented with enjoyable labs; overall, AP Chemistry will expand (maybe even combust?) upon your preliminary chemistry knowledge while undertaking the rigor of an AP Science course.

Taking AP Spanish 5 and/or AP Spanish 6 

If you enjoy learning the Spanish language as well as its rich cultural elements, AP Spanish 5 is certainly for you—as the name would suggest! The skill level with which students end Spanish ¾ Accelerated is the same as what is needed during AP Spanish 5, meaning the same abilities and techniques learned will simply be translated over in this AP class. AP Spanish 5, however, discusses Spanish-speaking culture around the world more in depth and focuses more on contemporary topics such as well-being, media, architecture and more.

Few students take AP Spanish 6 Literature and Culture after AP Spanish 5 Language and Culture, but it’s an excellent class for those interested in integrating history, culture, overarching societal ideas with language. Whether reading famed tales like Don Quijote de la Mancha or discussing how Spain’s Golden Age influenced 16th century writers, the course is extremely interactive. Similar to AP Euro, there is often nightly reading, but class time largely consists of lively discussion and fun games to better understand course material. Ultimately, this class may be especially alluring to students who would prefer to be assessed based on their interpretation of texts, visuals and audio sources, as there are no traditional “speaking” assessments in AP Spanish 6.

AP Themes vs. World Masterpieces 

AP Themes: AP English Literature and Composition — colloquially known as AP Themes — utilizes many of the same fine-tuned writing techniques of AP English Language and Composition (AP Lang). In particular, rhetorical analyses become style analyses in which writers’ techniques—as well as underlying meanings rather than audience impacts—are scrutinized, and argument essays are transformed into literary arguments, now using anecdotal evidence from a variety of texts rather than examples from everyday life  to answer a prompt. While AP Lang deals more with audience and how authors and speakers attempt to connect with their listeners or readers, AP Themes underscores the overarching meaning of pieces of prose, poetry and novels. 

World Masterpieces: World Masterpieces is an accelerated English course offered to seniors and generally follows Junior English Accelerated. Like AP Themes, World Masterpieces students read several intriguing novels from around the world that explore concepts dealing with religion and culture — like Dante’s Inferno and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex —  throughout both semesters and engage in daily conversations in large and small groups. World Masterpieces may be a better option for those who would prefer to study slightly antiquated as well as contemporary texts and relate the ideals in both older and more recent pieces of poetry, prose and literature to modern society.