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Carnegie: Beyond the Numbers

ap

Lynn Huynh, Carnegie, 2017

The media has brainwashed us into thinking that high school is full of boozy high school parties, jocks, preps, nerds, hipsters, and stoners.

Maybe it was just me, but this is what I expected from the time I was in elementary school until I found myself sitting in a high school auditorium for freshman orientation. I have never seen an accurate depiction of high school because the truth is that high schoolers are staying up until 1:00 AM — not partying, but studying for the next two or three tests (and they probably aren’t even done with the project due on the same day).

That’s a big truth for Carnegie, and the reality could get a lot worse.

For HISD superintendent Dr. Terry Grier, Carnegie Vanguard High School wasn’t enrolling enough students in AP courses because of the reputation Carnegie has for its rigorous academic curriculum.

The chances of adding AP classes are slim since out of the 37 AP courses available, Carnegie already offers its students 29. The eight other courses would require additional teachers to be hired, even if not enough students showed interest in those courses. With budget cuts and lack of classroom space, there’s little possibility that we could hire any more new teachers.

The only possible way to get around that is to cut down on electives. The limited choices would force students to enroll in AP classes that they most likely were uninterested in to begin with.

Students forced into AP classes who aren’t ready to take them, or don’t enjoy them, will participate less — and more importantly, not understand the curriculum. They’ll get behind, they’ll give up, they’ll hate school. Grades will plummet, and the chances of passing the class and the AP test will be lower (and those AP scores will go on your record for colleges!)

AP classes are for students who would enjoy the challenge in the subject being studied, for kids who would enjoy learning about the topic. What matters the most when considering what AP classes you should take is what you’d get out of that subject and whether the new information you’re learning could help your future. If I wanted to be an environmental engineer, then AP Biology would get me that head start before college and in my chosen profession…but honestly, I’m the worst with any sort of science and it’s just a never-ending struggle. But if I wanted to be a writer and were forced to take AP Biology because my school lost its Creative Writing Honors, what would be the point of taking that AP class? More importantly, I wouldn’t have that chance to further my studies in something I loved.

High school students continue to be more obsessed with their scores than with what they’re getting out of their classes. Some of us are barely passing subjects without  understanding the curriculum, guessing on multiple choice questions, just to make ourselves into a good GPA for an education system that continues to look at students as numbers. The decision to cut down on electives, if put into place, would only reinforce that fact: that instead of humans, we’ve become numbers, statistics, facts.

So, Dr. Terry Grier, if you’re reading this, I invite you to visit Carnegie or any other HISD school. Talk to us, sit in an AP class. And if you’re going to be looking at any numbers, look at the hours of work expected to be done by students, look at the percentage of students at an unhealthy rate of stress and unhappiness, but most importantly, look at us as budding individuals with infinite potential to change the world, because that is who we actually are.

8 comments on “Carnegie: Beyond the Numbers

  1. Anonymous Senior
    March 12, 2015

    Thank you for writing this article. I can’t even count how many students I have heard say they were so overwhelmed by the rigor already present, and how many of them confess they had faced depression at some point in their high school career because of the stress and otherwise. I myself am included.

    I can’t imagine what students might face once the ’15 class has graduated, if this push for AP really happens…

  2. Rosie Senior
    March 12, 2015

    Awesome article. AP classes are good…but not too many of them. Too many kids breaking down, mentally and physically due to the stress. Only to find out that the University of choice does not accept that AP class….

  3. A Sophomore
    March 12, 2015

    Lynn’s points are all accurate. I find myself frustrated and angered on a daily basis due to the massive workload at Carnegie Vanguard. Yes, I acknowledge that I’m attending one of the top high schools in the nation and that I should expect a large workload, but I shouldn’t have to work to the point where I feel as if I’m being consumed by projects and assignments. I honestly doubt any of the teachers at Carnegie know what their students are going through, which only expands their ignorance to the fact that the lifestyle of a Carnegie Vanguard student is UNHEALTHY and DEPRESSIVE and it is so because teachers lack cooperation. Our teachers also did not experience high school the way we do, and due to the emphasis of our “GT-ness”, teachers believe we can tackle heavy workloads in the blink of an eye, which is completely false.

  4. Graduated
    March 12, 2015

    School in Texas is very, very easy. If you are complaining about school being rigorous or difficult now, you are going to have a rude awakening in college if you go to a school that has any semblance of academic prowess.

    • Tired Sophomore
      March 13, 2015

      Graduated:
      I’m not sure if you went to Carnegie or not, but if you did then i am indeed afraid for the future. But if not, I really don’t think you should be judging. Sure, the workload is manageable if you don’t have anything else going on, but I have a job as well as 2-3 hours worth of extra curriculars a day. In this day and age colleges require students to be highly involved to even be considered, so I know for a fact this is a widespread problem. Teenagers need at least 9 hours of sleep a night, and that plus 8 hours of school, 2-3 hours of extra curriculars, and 2-3 hours of homework leaves just two hours of free time a day. “That’s not so bad!” you might say, “two hours is plenty!”. However, this time is actually taken up by… you know… eating. Family time. Commuting. Chores. Living in general. Consequentially, students often forgo sleep just to keep their sanity.
      This week alone I had 3 projects and 4 tests, in addition to daily homework and a death in the family. I haven’t slept more than four hours a night in the past 5 days. I don’t have time to exercise, draw, or spend any time with my parents.
      But my school is SO easy, right?

  5. Anonymous Senior
    March 12, 2015

    Graduated:
    I think the very, very easy depends on which school you went to. If you graduated from Carnegie- kudos to you, I wish I were as smart as you were to have found it so easy.
    From other Carnegie graduates, I have heard that Carnegie has helped make College much easier to adjust to. I do hope that the effort was indeed that much worth it.

  6. A Sophomore
    March 13, 2015

    @Graduated

    Say that after you graduate from the nation’s 11th most challenging high school. Your insensitivity towards the struggles that Carnegie Vanguard students have to endure every day shows how uneducated and academically unaware you are.

  7. A Junior Who's Trying To Make It
    March 14, 2015

    I agree with this 1000%. Honestly, I do love the option of AP courses and as a Junior at CVHS, they help and count a bunch this year. However, I am currently taking Anatomy and Physiology (which is my only elective) and I absolutely love it. I love curriculum and it might include a bunch of memorization and having a huge stomach to be able to contain a portion of the visuals and activities, it is all worth it. The class is WAY more lineate than all of my other classes, but has the same pace as all of the other 3 AP classes I have to take as a Junior. I enjoy that class thoroughly and would hate to have it taken away because of extra AP classes being un-necessarily added. Of the 3 AP classes I do take, I have been through a carnival ride of emotions and to tell the truth I have experience the wave of depression more than twice. I try my very best in all my classes and even if the AP’s I take don’t interest me in the slightest, I still try to push through because I was told to fight the very best I could so I won’t have to in college. But I don’t like fighting. The pressure is unbelievable and once I get home there’s more to come. There are chores, my parents work a ton, I’m the oldest out of three and have to take care of them the majority of the week. I doesn’t help when you have tons of homework to complete on top of responsibilities at home to conquer. It almost makes you want to cry amd just give up, but for some odd reason I can’t. There’s so much stress that it becomes unbearable sometimes and I just put down my pencil and go to bed. However, going back to the elective that I take it is hard sometimes, but that clasd is definitely bearable as opposed to my other classes that become tougher and tougher the more the months progress. I don’t appreciate the fact that adding extra APs will help CVHS as students. I don’t understand the logic behind that. That should not happen because school is already too stressful enough. Who knows what would happen if that takes place.

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