Demopolis High rewards AP students

A+ studentsStudents who passed Advanced Placement Exams in math, science and English last spring received $100 gift cards in a presentation Friday morning at Demopolis High School.

The rewards are part of the A+ College Ready grant program encouraging more students to enroll in AP classes to better prepare them for college and career. Not only are successful students given the gift cards but, depending on the college they choose to attend and their grades on the exams, they get credit for courses.

“The purpose of the program is to make sure that the classes we are offering you are giving you the best chance to do well in whatever field you feel is right for you,” Leslie Gibbs told the AP and pre-AP students at the assembly. Gibbs is the A+ College Readiness Grant Coordinator.

Gibbs said 150 students took the exams last year. Of those, 47 passed exams. However, the grant, partially funded by the National Math and Science Initiative, doesn’t fund the AP History course. Gift cards were given to the 35 students passing math, science and English exams.

“We hope next year to be able to expand to the history exams,” Gibbs continued.

As she introduced the AP teachers, Gibbs said the teachers worked hard to prepare the courses. “I promise we have studied and trained just as hard as you are studying and training in order to become better teachers for you.”

Dr. Tony Speegle, DHS principal, said the A+ program was in jeopardy of being cut at the school until a cadre of teachers quickly worked out a solution. “That’s one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in education,” he told the students. “I saw a group of teachers sitting around a table who solved that problem in about 10 minutes.”

Gibbs said the AP curricula now has 363 students signed up, more than double the number from last year. She hopes the program will continue to grow as students and parents see the benefits of the challenging courses.

Gibbs said the $280,000 grant over three years covers the training for AP and pre-AP teachers and provides a stipend for the times they work on Saturdays or in the summer. It also pays for equipment and for the gift cards for each exam that is passed.

She said the cost of taking each exam is $89, but the grant also prorates the expense by paying half the fee for regular students. Those students on free and reduced lunch can take the exams at no cost.

It is possible for a student to pass all four AP exams and earn 12 hours of college credit before he graduates high school.