Ennis High School adds more AP classes – Board changes commencement award requirements

The Ennis High School is gearing up this summer to offer more advanced placement classes next year and the school board decided Monday night to make taking AP classes a requirement to be valedictorian or salutatorian.

The proposal for the change in the requirements came from Ennis High School principal John Sullivan. He had researched the issue in looking to whether or not recommend giving a weighted grade for AP classes.

Some schools give weighted grades for their AP classes, but more common was to require their valedictorian and salutatorian to take and pass AP coursework, Sullivan told the school board.

“That way they award the students who challenge themselves,” he said.

Ennis High School recently sent a handful of teachers to AP training so they could teach the advanced classes, which offer students a chance to earn college credit while in high school.

Science teacher Mellissa Newman attended the training and gave a short report on it to the school board Monday night at their regular monthly meeting.

The training was challenging and will push teachers and students alike, Newman said.

“I’ve definitely got my homework cut out for me,” she said. “The kids are going to have to put a lot more effort into this class.”

Newman will teach AP Chemistry and to get the full college credit available, her students will not only have to pass the college chemistry test, but also the lab work as well, Newman said.

Her training instructor told her that the first year teaching an AP classes is challenging, but it gets easier in subsequent years.

“The first year is going to be a learning curve, a huge learning curve for us,” Newman said.

This year Ennis High School will offer six college level courses: literature, chemistry, calculus, government, speech and composition.

The new valedictorian and salutatorian requirements will be in effect for the class of 2014.

The requirement will make the awards fair for students who push themselves, Sullivan said.

In other news, the school board will take up the coming year’s budget at their next regular meeting Aug. 8. The deadline for the district to have a budget passed is Aug. 15, said superintendent Doug Walsh.

In public comment, David Kelley, who is suing the school board and Walsh over the funding of the new school and Walsh’s contracts, asked that the budgeting process be made more public and that people know what the school board is planning to spend on various funds within the budget prior to the meeting finalizing the budget.

The school board didn’t directly address Kelley’s request.

On Monday the school board also voted to hire a new band teacher, Andrew Scruggs, and special education teacher, Dan Olkowski.

The board also scheduled a special meeting for July 25 to address issues not on the agenda at Monday’s meeting.


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