Absence of honors course calls for change in U.S. History

Maeve Plunkett , asst. opinions editor

Last year, during AP testing week, I couldn’t stare at my AP U.S. History (APUSH) notebook for a second longer during my SRT. My brain was fried and I needed some human interaction. So, I went to a regular U.S. History class with a friend who was taking it and kind of became a part of the class for a few blocks, doing worksheets, participating in discussions and even taking a test (yes, I am that strange).

I noticed how astronomical the difference between AP and regular U.S. was, and thought about my friend who didn’t need to try as hard to get her A in regular. Then I thought about the friend who was in AP and feared for her GPA only because South doesn’t offer an honors level course.

Seeing one person put in minimal effort and another devote countless hours to a class she hated made me question why South doesn’t offer an honors level class.

In my AP class, there was a 40 question quiz nearly every week, preparing us for the AP test in May. In the regular class, there were presentations about family history, discussions and videos, culminating in a layered class and more time for thought. Sitting in that class opened my eyes to the difference between the regular and AP  levels.

The AP class is hard, but extremely rewarding when you can devote all of your energy to it. The regular class could be really interesting if it’s the right fit for a student. But not every student can give the time commitment which APUSH requires or justify the regular class in their GPA.

I had planned to write this column calling for an entirely separate honors course until I spoke with John Meyer, Academy and regular U.S. History teacher. He explained that he would not advocate for a new Honors U.S. History course because having students in the regular level who would usually take an honors or AP course proved to be beneficial.

“They help bring along everything from discussions to writing to questions in class [and if] they were in an honors class we wouldn’t get [that] in a regular class,” Meyer said.

The U.S. History course is considered so important that it is a graduation requirement. It’s there for us to learn about our country so that we can follow in the good traditions and rectify the bad ones.

A whole new course isn’t necessary for that, but some changes might be. In some sophomore history electives, there are options to do extra work to receive honors credit. I think South should extend that option to students taking the regular level U.S. History class.

Jeannie Logan, social studies instructional supervisor, explained that the department had not considered adding another level to the U.S. History curriculum because no matter what they did, it would be impossible to tailor to every students’ learning needs.

So why add another level if it doesn’t solve everything? Because it fixes something. If there was an option to take regular U.S. history while doing additional work to receive honors credit, I think a lot of students would take up the opportunity and benefit from a balanced load without feeling guilty about their GPA.

There is demand for change here, and I think the best solution would be an honors option in the regular U.S. History classes.