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Controversy Over Classes: Changes for the 2017-18 School Year

Carrie Haynes, Opinions Editor, Logos Print Edition

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In a year of many transitions at Harpeth Hall, the adjustments to available courses for the 2016-2017 school years seem to be most prominent. Changes include AP History and English classes becoming open enrollment, the addition of AP Government, and AP Language and Composition being offered in lieu of Honors English III. While these changes seem drastic and, to some, disheartening, I believe they will ultimately promote a better, more inclusive learning environment.

Many members of the administration and the student body are excited about the switch to open enrollment for AP classes in the English and History departments. Tony Springman, chair of the history department is similarly enthused. “We’ve always struggled with how do you say who gets in and who doesn’t,” Springman said. “We’re usually very comfortable with about 90% of our choices. But when you get down to the last ten—is this really what’s best for her?”

This shift removes stress on the teachers by giving students the responsibility of deciding the rigor of their classes. It allows girls to participate in a class that they would not have before due to a minor grade point difference, or more easily opt out of a class their teacher may recommend they take. While there are concerns that classes may move at a slower pace, students of all levels will benefit from the ability to collaborate and learn from each other.

Secondly, the new AP Government class is a welcome addition for many students such as myself who want more AP options in the social sciences to rival the amount offered in areas of STEM.

The English curriculum and department changes are among the most impactful. As someone who took Honors British Literature, I can confidently say it was among my favorites at Harpeth Hall.  Many seniors, including myself, are saddened by the loss of the opportunity for current sophomores to read fantastic books and plays such as “Antony and Cleopatra” or Mrs. Dalloway.

“The books I have read in English over the past few years have been an integral part of my high school experience,” Anna Grace Cole, senior, said. “With the British Lit and AP Lang changes, I worry that some of the aspects that make each class so wonderful will be lost.”

Ms. Lemon, current chair of the English department, understands that these changes are unsettling, yet she believes students will benefit from taking AP Language junior year. “It’s an equitable way for everyone in our community to have that test prep,” Ms. Lemon said. “You don’t have to go out and get a tutor. You can get it in your English class.”

Some things, however, won’t be changing. The English department hopes to include pieces of literature from Honors British Literature as part of AP language, and the term paper will remain a fixture for juniors.

Ultimately, students at Harpeth Hall will benefit from the modification of the high school courses. The new open enrollment policy will create greater challenge and more thought-provoking classes for students next year. AP Language will prepare juniors for standardized testing, and I hope that the English Department keeps the fantastic works read in British Literature in the new curriculum.

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Controversy Over Classes: Changes for the 2017-18 School Year