A Guide to Choosing Classes for Rising 10th Graders



Ruth Kramer

By Ruth Kramer ’18, News Editor and Maddie Morales ’18, Lifestyle Editor

Dear upcoming 10th graders: Congratulations, you have survived your first year of high school! This means that you will be choosing all of your classes for the 2016-2017 year. A piece of advice: Do not get overwhelmed. Our classes are designed to challenge us; you do go to a difficult school—do not let a difficult class ruin your confidence.
Maybe you will take all honors, maybe you’ll take none, perhaps just a few. It is up to you now. So, before you jump right in and pick a class that might not be right for you, take a moment and think about what you want and what you need. For your convenience, here is a small guide to the different expectations/realities of honors courses. After thinking about what you want, taking a glimpse at the course guide, and reading a short description from someone who has had personal experience with the course and the teachers, you will be able to make a decision that is best for you. From someone who’s been there, you can make the decision best for you.

Honors Math

Usually, most people in Honors Geometry move up to Honors Algebra II. While this class can be challenging, it is also very fun. Josie Rutherford ’18, a current Honors Algebra II Student, says that Honors Algebra II “is a class where you can learn more because of the smaller class size. It seems like we are more engaged in the material.” Whether you are in Mr. Faulhaber’s or Mrs. Back’s class, you will be taking the same tests and going over the same topics. Beware, there are some difficult topics that come up in this class, such as logarithmic functions and Faulhaber’s infamous “think-outside-of-the-box” problems. While Faulhaber does tell some stellar jokes, it is not all fun and games. Be ready to learn your way around a calculator and eraser. If math is not your strong suit and you would rather put more effort elsewhere, Zack O’ Brien ’18 says that “College Prep Math is a good class.  [There are] strong teachers no matter who you get.” If you have difficulty with math,  meeting with your teacher once or twice a week with questions about the more complicated problems can help you understand them better and the format they take on tests. Those in the math department, the entire faculty actually, is approachable, so asking questions should be easy. So, no matter what class you choose you are bound to have a great year with a lot of fun and interesting teachers.

Pre-AP French/Spanish

If you like French and you are eager to learn about not only grammar, but also modern issues such as illegal immigration and importing/exporting in Europe, then Pre-AP French is for you. Lorae Stojanovic ’18 says that “it is a very fun class and you learn a lot, but you have to make sure you can manage the homework. There are no excuses when it comes to Madame Kairet.” (She is right). For those of you thinking about entering the Pre-AP Spanish class, Lenora Croley ’18 and Kaitlyn Hardesty ’18, both of whom are taking the course this year, say that “it is a very hard class,”  but Hardesty adds, “it is still fun. We even get to play games sometimes.” Language is a more demanding subject because it requires a lot of memorization of grammar structure and vocabulary, but take the class if you are invested and are excited to learn.

Whether you take Spanish or French,  realize that it is most likely not your first language and choose what is most comfortable for you. If you are naturally gifted with understanding languages, than choosing an honors course seems right because you can apply that knack for linguistic abilities. If languages are difficult for you, consider taking it easy and do not push yourself to where it stresses you out even more. If you do not think you can take on a challenge or it is too much with your course load—do not put more on your plate for the sake of having it if you will not enjoy it.

Honors History

I only have one word for this class: reading. And lots of it. If you do go into Honors European History and the World, be ready to read every single night. If you are not an avid reader, we would recommend regular Modern European History because it is more note-based with tests rather than reading and writing. Though there is a lot of information and issues to cover in Honors Modern European, these texts are absolutely fascinating. So if you enjoy reading handouts about WWII, participating in group discussions, and occasionally being provoked into fighting Mr. Black, Honors Modern European History is for you!  Stojanovic, an Honors History student, says that Mr. Black’s Modern World History class is “positively Merle-velous.” A Socratic discussion-based course, it revolving around readings and your opinions on them. Writing essays only comes about once a month; participation and reading is the bulk of your grade. But, if this does not sound like the course for you, then College Prep History may be the way to go. Emily Ray ’18, one of Dr. Destin’s college prep history students says that “there is not a lot of homework, but the homework is very important because that is what is mainly on the tests. So make sure you do your homework.” History is a subject that also requires a decent amount of dedication because of dates and important events, but whether in College Prep or Honors, it is a fun place to be.

AP Biology

You will take a biology class your sophomore year. If you took Earth Science your first year, you take Biology 10 with either Mr. Dahl or Ms. Christiansen. You learn genetics, ecology, anatomy, photosynthesis, and have labs. If you took Honors Biochemistry during 9th grade, you are taught AP Biology by Mr. Dunn during your sophomore year. This course picks up where you left last year and is formatted the same: college level labs, complex material to study and understand, and an AP to finish the course off.

AP Biology tests you emotionally and academically, and is not advised for those not willing to work hard. John Pettengill ’18, a sophomore currently taking the AP Bio class, says that he would “definitely recommend AP Bio because it is an interesting course with interesting information and if you are able to stay on top of your work it’s a lot of fun.” Emmy Morgan ’18, another AP Bio student also says that the class is very demanding and that “it takes a lot of energy and effort to stay on top of everything.”

Honors English

Honors English is not for the faint of heart. Mrs. Dunn critiques writing harshly, expects top analysis of Shakespeare passages, and assigns recitations—but you will come out of class as a top-notch writer, and an overall better English student. In Honors English, you not only take on difficult texts such as Othello and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, but you write meticulous papers centered around themes and motifs, all the while being roasted all year long by a ruthless Mrs. Dunn. Just like AP Biology is not for those who do not want to put in the effort, neither is Honors English (must be a Dunn thing). Grappling with these texts can be challenging and the amount of reading and vocabulary is extensive, but the writer you become is totally worth the anxiety from an AP in-class essay.If you are passionate about literature and willing to work hard, it is definitely the class for you. If English is not your favorite, I would not recommend this course because English 10 is a sufficient class too, just less rigorous. Morgan Brown ’18, an English College Prep student says that college prep English “is good if you get into the books that you are reading” and that the topics can be very interesting.

So, now that you have viewed the course syllabuses and have received some advice from sophomores who have been in your shoes, you can make an informed decision. But do not just look at the facts when you choose, look at yourself. What are you interested in? What do you want to take? What do you want to do? It is our education, right? You choose. Listen to your heart and go where your interests lie.

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