Keep our Classes!

Many classes are being removed next year, so let’s investigate what’s going on.


With the upcoming school year on the Horizen, Santa Maria High School every year will be expecting to have many classes to choose from for students that are coming or remaining here at SMHS. With everyone moving up a grade every new school year, the options in terms of classes grow for every grade that you move up whether you are a Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior, or a Senior. So, no year is different right? Well, you may be surprised to know that this upcoming school year some very important classes will be cut that will affect all the grade levels here at SMHS currently and limit the options of some students. So, let’s investigate which ones they will be and how important they are.

As many students here know, we all have electives to choose from whether it be Art, Culinary Arts, or something of that sort, but we also have many options to choose from the basic classes such as Math, English, History, and Science in where there may be two or more options depending on your grade level. However, the options will now be limited for this upcoming school year for students as unfortunately college prep classes such as AP or options like American literature, British literature, and English reading plus will be cut.

Photo credit: Evan Graff, Flickr.

AP classes that will be cut will be AP US Government and Macro Economics (12th Grade), AP US History (11th Grade), and AP World History (10th Grade) as well as classes such as American Literature (9th Grade), British Literature (10th Grade) and English Reading Plus (9th Grade). As we head into this upcoming school year in the fall it looks like a lot of change will be happening surrounding these classes, though I feel as it may be for the worse, and I say this as not only have I personally taken some of these classes (AP World History and Currently AP US History) with me being a junior but there are some great benefits for taking advanced classes such as AP.

For example, in AP those classes not only prepare you for college (if you decide to go) but also they count as two college classes which is amazing, and while they may be very stressful at times, I feel like it is worth because not only does it have those benefits, but also the experience with this makes you feel like you start to realize how to organize your schedule and also I feel like it may make things from another class easier in terms of work. Of course, all AP students prepare for the BIG test in May towards the end of the school year but that’s what you prepare for in AP. Which is why I find it very weird that AP will be cut as these classes are very helpful in terms of not only improving skills in studying, writing, and reading, but also in improving everyday life skills such as time management, being more disciplined and getting things done on time.

It really also blows that American and British literature also will be removed as well. Even though I have never taken the class before I’m sure others that have taken the class must have good things to say about the class. As well as English Reading Plus as this class is known to be a super helpful class to those with low reading comprehension. So, with these classes being cut we of course have the teachers who will have their own reactions and opinions about their class being cut, so that’s why I had the pleasure of interviewing a few of them and asking them for what they thought about this change. The following responses are theirs:

Mrs. Hennings (AP US History): “Yes I feel like it was unnecessary for the school to do this as the AP classes are beneficial for students and I feel like it’s nice for students to have the options to take AP classes if they want to. I was shocked when I found out as it was very surprising that they (the school) would cut such an important program that is very valuable and also crushed as I have spent over 20 years pouring my heart and soul into creating a program that helps the students and for it to be taken away without a good reason from my perspective was heartbreaking for me and for the students who I think benefit from the program. There are students who have gone on to go to prestigious schools like Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown and those types of schools who look for AP and have taken my AP class so I think it’s a negative thing for students who want to go to out of state universities who may except AP to be on their transcripts. I wish I could make the discission reverse. I did my best to voice my thoughts and have a few students voice their opinions, but the discission has already been made. Hopefully someday they may reconsider and bring AP back.”

Mr. Markstone (AP World History): “I can see the need or desire to cut those classes from the school administration’s point of view. If there are other options for students to take higher-level courses that can earn them college credit and give them a GPA bump (such as concurrent enrollment courses), then it might make sense to cut some of the AP classes. Initially, I didn’t react to the news. I wanted to understand the arguments on both sides (keeping the classes vs. cutting the classes). I know my colleagues have worked hard to build their classes and continuously improve their teaching and change activities to better prepare students for the AP exams. To have all of that preparation, work, and knowledge cast aside does hurt. If/when the AP World History course I currently teach goes away, there will be a small part of my heart that goes with the textbooks to live under the admin building for all eternity. But, as stated previously, I think I understand at least some of the reasons the classes were cut. I think, overall, I’m ok with the decision to cut the courses. I say that because, as a parent with a high school-aged student, I encouraged him to take Concurrent Enrollment courses over AP Courses. Ultimately, if it’s good enough for my own kid, it’s good enough for the kids here. I love teaching AP World History. I love everything about it, including grading the exams every summer, which will no longer be part of my life if we stop offering the AP course here at SMHS. However, this isn’t about what I love or like’ it’s about what’s best for the students.”

Mr. Hebert (English Reading Plus): “I was disappointed as we offer this course for 9th graders with low level reading comprehension and this class is used to help them a lot. In fact, this class has proven to help those readers so much that their levels of reading go up to an average of six reading levels and on occasions even 10 reading levels and this even showed that our program was the top program of its kind in the nation! That is huge as from the span of say two and a half years. Reading levels for these students go up so much that it was very disappointing to find out that this class will be cut. I have been trying to hopefully reverse this decision but, as of right now, it’s not looking too well and it is most likely that this class will be cut. I am very disappointed and saddened with the decision on not only with the class being gone and no longer being offered, but also for the sake of the students as not only do they improve their reading skills tremendously, but it was also great to see them excited and proud of their improving level of reading. As say compared to other classes like P.E, English, and Math, this class was one of the classes students looked forward to the most as they wanted to improve their reading. I just feel like this is decision is unnecessary as this class has been proven to help out so many incoming freshmen and students with low reading levels so to cut it is just shocking and it disappoints me hugely.”

As you can see, these teachers for the most part are very disappointed in the discission by the school. In my opinion coming from a student who has taken a few of these classes, I think it’s a shame and unfortunate for the school, students, and teachers for these classes to be cut. Hopefully some classes can be saved, if not then we will see if they bring them back in the future for future students.