Successful Scholars: Local students excel on advanced exams
Carroll County students have been excelling in their Advanced Placement (AP) classes, and several have been named AP Scholars.
According to APCentral.org, the AP Scholar Awards recognize high school students who have demonstrated exemplary college-level achievement on AP Exams. It says the title of AP Scholar is granted to students who receive scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP Exams. AP Scholar with Honor is granted to students who receive an average score of 3.25 on all AP Exams taken and have scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams, it says. AP Scholar with Distinction is granted to students who receive an average score of 3.5 on all AP Exams taken and have scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams, the site says.
Berryville High School had several current students and graduates recognized as AP Scholars for 2018.
Brian Hall, Dakota Hall-Alvard, Delwin Portillo, Alex Maldonado, Jake Hill and Allison Wisdom were named AP Scholars, and Sandy Carloman, Amber Veach and Sarah Withers were named AP Scholars with Honors.
2018 BHS graduates Ty Allen, Aaron Doss, Sarah Hale, Justin Mueller, Jose Sanchez-Garcias, Nora Waller, Jania Wood and Jonathan Zamudio were named AP Scholars. Jose Gutierrez was named an AP Scholar with Honors, and Emily Blitz was named an AP Scholar with Distinction.
Carloman said she was surprised to be named an AP Scholar with Honors.
“I scored a 5 on AP U.S. History, but I was honestly a little surprised because my other scores weren’t
as good and you want perfect in everything,” she said. “When I got the perfect score, I was like ‘My hard work finally paid off!’ I was so glad it was all worth it.”
She said her teacher was excited, too, because he had pushed her to score a 5, the top score students can receive on an AP Exam.
“It was great seeing my teacher be so happy,” Carloman said. “He had really pushed me to get a 5. He said ‘I know you can do it.’ ”
Veach said she was pleased to be named an AP Scholar with Honors and hopes to become an AP Scholar with Distinction by the end of this year. Between her current and past courses, she said she has taken about nine AP classes.
“I was definitely really happy to see that I was an AP Scholar with Honors,” she said. “I wanted to make it to the next level. Hopefully, I’ll get Distinction this year after my AP tests.”
Hall-Alvard said he also wants to move up to the next level and achieve Distinction or Honors.
“I was happy to be an AP Scholar,” he said. “I wish I could have gotten a higher award during the time of college applications. I expect to receive a higher award this year, but that will be past college applications.”
“I feel some pride in it,” Hall said.
“I was happy to make these scores so that I don’t have to pay for these classes in college,” Wisdom said. “I already have them done and out of the way, so I can focus more on targeted classes for my major.”
Hill said he was happy to be named an AP Scholar but disappointed that he didn’t make it to a higher level.
“I was glad I got what I did because I don’t have to pay for the classes,” he said, “but if you get higher then you get the Honors and the Distinction.”
The students said AP classes are college-level, meaning they come with more assignments and higher difficulty levels.
“Most of them have summer assignments, especially AP Literature and AP Language,” said Veach. “The ones like AP Biology may not have summer assignments, but they have a very strenuous curriculum.”
“You also have to do a lot of work outside of school that you wouldn’t regularly do,” said Hill.
Not all the classes have a lot of assignments, Hall said, but some of them make up for it in difficulty.
“For example, in AP Calculus our only grades are our quizzes and tests,” Veach said, “and there’s four. It’s a lot more stressful because you’re put on the spot for your tests and you don’t have those class assignments or homework to bring your grade up. We have one homework grade per big test.”
“I think the most crucial part is just doing your reading and listening to the lectures,” said Hall-Alvard. “The difficulty lies in grasping the concept in your classroom.”
Even if students don’t pass the course and get college credit, Wisdom said, AP classes still prepare them for college.
“Our AP U.S. History teacher used to say ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ ” she said. “Even if you don’t make a 3, what’s the worst thing that can happen? You’re just more prepared for college.”
“If it doesn’t get me out of the class, then it will help me in the class,” Veach said. “I might retake calculus in college because I don’t want to miss Calculus I before Calculus II. What they teach might be different, and it’s close to my major. What I’m taking in high school will definitely be a basis of knowledge for what I’m going to build on in the college courses.”
Hall-Alvard said many Berryville graduates have told current students how easy their college courses were because they took the AP classes first, even if they didn’t receive credit.
“If you’re majoring in engineering and took AP U.S. History, then you can just skip it in college,” he said. “You’re done with that.”
Gifted and talented (GT) instructor Delene McCoy said students can actually be first-semester sophomores in college by the time they graduate high school if they receive enough credits through AP classes.
“There’s a new mandate in Arkansas on the books that if you score a 3 or higher then all Arkansas higher education institutions will grant you credit,” she said. “That came out this past year. These students are earning high school and college credit and working at a college level in high school.”
McCoy said she is very proud of the students’ achievements.
“They’re always nervous about taking these higher-level courses and these higher-level exams,” she said. “We want to believe that they can do it, and when it actually happens it’s great. It’s a credit to our school as a whole and our AP department. We have some wonderful AP teachers here at Berryville.”
History teacher Matt Sayer had all eight of his AP Government and Politics students receive a 3 or above last year.
“That’s the ultimate goal,” he said. “It’s a difficult goal, but that’s what we always try to do. I had a great group of kids. The national average is like a 50 percent pass rate, so it feels very good to have them all succeed.”
Green Forest High School seniors Trinity McMahan and Carter Boggs were both named AP Scholars for 2018.
2018 graduate Emily Lindstrom was also named an AP Scholar, and graduate Creel Roberts was named an AP Scholar with Distinction.
McMahan said she took AP European History, AP Literature and AP Psychology last year and is taking AP U.S. History, AP Statistics and AP Human Geography this year.
“It was exciting to be named an AP Scholar,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to get a 5 on my exams, and I got two 5s and a 4. That was exciting because I worked really hard on AP European History. There was a lot of writing essays outside of school.”
Boggs said he has taken AP Human Geography, AP Psychology, AP Biology and AP U.S. History.
“I was surprised and excited to be an AP Scholar,” he said. “I usually don’t get academic recognitions. There is summer homework involved in the courses. It kind of sucks to have your friends running around in the summer while you’re stuck doing essays. You put in the work, and it helps you out later.”
Boggs said the AP classes teach students study skills and time management for college.
McMahan is also a semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship, which is awarded to students who score in the 99th percentile on the PSAT.
“There are 16,000 students nationally selected for semifinalists,” she said, “and 15,000 move on to finalist standing. I’ve already submitted the application and should find out by the end of the year if I’m a finalist.”
McMahan continued, “I’d never heard of anybody who had gotten it before, so I didn’t really know much about it. It was neat to know it was that small of a number of students.”
She said being a National Merit Scholarship finalist would qualify her for some great scholarships at universities.
“Baylor University, which is one of the colleges I’m applying to, offers a full-ride scholarship for merit finalists,” McMahan said, “and Ouachita Baptist University offers a $1,000 scholarship for it. It’s going to help me wherever I go.”