A typical class of twenty-five students occupy room 227. The furious squeak of an Expo marker can be heard, but the words that make up today’s lecture fall upon deaf ears. A deep feeling of lethargy permeates the air.
Meanwhile, several students stare out the window with an intensity that suggests the presence of UFOs in the sky. Others find solace in their laps, where their smartphones are cached, the number 2048 emblazoned atop their screens. The craziest of all are looking down at their textbooks and jotting down what is being written on the board.
“Your AP exam is a month from now,” says Ms. Holm-Andersen casually. This sentence doesn’t seem to affect the students in the way she’d hoped. This indifferent atmosphere seems to be prevalent in all AP courses. It seems the old adage holds true here at AHS: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”
‘My friends and family actually make fun of me because I do all my work, and teachers ask me why I still care when I ask for my grades.’
Emily Wilson, Senior
The annual administration of the College Board’s AP tests is the culmination of a year’s worth of work for students and teachers alike. It is also a large source of anxiety for both groups, who represent Andover High’s best and brightest. The faculty use the scores as a means of self-evaluation, while the juniors will have their results sent to colleges. However, these scores are not released until July, which is well beyond the typical reply date set by universities. As a result, many seniors lose the motivation to perform on the AP exam.
Yet, the instructors of AHS still press on. The biology department’s staff room is littered with stacks of paper, binders, and textbooks—the majority of which are dedicated to the AP curriculum. In the center of it all is Holm-Andersen, who is teaching AP Bio, and thus, seniors, for the first time.
When asked how many members of the Class of 2014 still tried in her classes, she could name a few out of four dozen. “I just can’t understand why you’d still go to school, not knowing or caring what’s going on in your classes,” she said. In a rare display of frustration, Holm-Andersen expressed her concern with the conduct of some of the seniors, all of whom received recommendations from various teachers in the building.
“I just think the way some of these kids are acting is disappointing, in light of all the positive things that were said about them,” Holm-Andersen stated. “When some of them got into schools, they started acting differently. If their references could see them now, they’d be shocked.”
When asked about the root of the problem, she said it could be because “people are taking APs for the sake of taking APs, not because they actually have a passion for the subject. If I had to give advice to anyone asking about their future classes, I’d tell them that opting into AP Bio is only a good idea if you love biology.”
In some classes, like Ms. Waters’ BC Calculus, senioritis has never been an issue. Her classes finish the required curriculum about a month before the AP test, and use the plethora of remaining class time to review. Last year, Waters’ twenty-six BC Calc students averaged a 4.92 out of 5 on the AP exam. She appreciates the College Board’s efforts to release previous tests, scoring guidelines, and teacher workshops, saying, “Their organization makes it really easy for teachers to stay on top of any of the changes in the curriculum or tests.”
Check out a related story for tips from Mrs. Waters on deciding whether to sign up for an AP.
According to Waters, the seniors she’s had over the years have “been so dedicated, and recognize that they’ve put so much time and effort into the course that they don’t ‘blow off’ the exam. They want to earn the college credit or be exempt from Calc I or Calc II. I think they’ve realized that slacking off too much would only make them have regrets later on.” Furthermore, she says that the upperclassmen have continued to be wonderful despite receiving college acceptances, with the only drop-off being “a little bit more relaxation among seniors when it comes to homework.” Nevertheless, the myth of the hard-working second semester senior is not limited to those in BC Calculus.
Emily Wilson, senior, is one of these rare cases. For one, she is the only senior to be accepted to Tufts University on early decision. Despite this, Wilson has refused to punch her express ticket to Senior Slide City, saying, “It just feels so wrong to not do my homework since I hate not knowing what we’re doing in class. My friends and family actually make fun of me because I do all my work, and teachers ask me why I still care when I ask for my grades.”
However, one senior is the victim of extenuating circumstances: Jonathan “JoCo” Cohen, who has some atypical plans for the future. Cohen will serve in the Israeli military for three years after his graduation with the Class of 2014. When asked if he cared about the upcoming examinations, Cohen responded honestly, saying, “Not at all—I’ve been a second semester senior since the end of sophomore year. Plus, I’m moving to Israel, so I worry about my grades even less than I used to.”
Cohen then proceeded to sing “One Day More,” a song from the 2012 film blockbuster Les Miserables. During this off-key serenade, a contented smile spread across his face, and Cohen remarked happily, “I’ve only got six Mondays left, you know.”
One day more indeed.
By Dylan Zhang