OHS AP Experience: Year Two

by ARIEL HARSINAY

Oceanside High School is officially in its second year of the AP experience. Last year was the pilot for a program in which students who take AP classes get to choose an independent project to work on following the AP exam rather than attending the participating AP class. Oftentimes, after AP exams, the curriculum is completely finished and students are left with a month of movies and study hall classes; however, the AP experience grants students the opportunity to pursue an idea they may have not had time to pursue during the school year.

For each class that participates, you must spend 2 hours a week working on your project. The AP experience is an option for any class where there is no Regents exam and the teacher chooses to participate. The AP experience gives students a chance to spend time working on a meaningful project that they didn’t have time to work on during the hectic school year.

Students at Oceanside have chosen a variety of independent projects to work on for their AP experience, ranging from internships to art projects to volunteer work and a plethora of other creative and novel ideas. For example, senior Julia Woods is using her AP experience to illustrate her grandfather’s poems instead of going to her AP English Lit and AP Art classes. “The AP experience gives students a chance to explore their individual talents at their own discretion. My grandpa has been asking me to do this for years and now without the stress of school, I finally have the chance,” Julia said.

Another unique project is being conducted by Tori Bonacasa, who will be translating a short story from Italian to English.  Many students have also decided to start participating in the Sider Press as their AP experience, such as Cameryn Green who will begin writing articles and Valeria Camano who will be writing an investigative article on livestock treatment. Shannon DeFranza will be spending her AP experience painting a mural in Mr. MeKeel’s office. Alison Schwasnick will be working with her grandma to make a quilt out of all her old lacrosse t-shirts for college. Another original project is being conducted by Sabrina Haertig and Will Kleyman who have decided to create their own language as an AP experience project. Many students are also choosing to pursue charitable projects, such as Alexis Chiofalo who will be spending her AP experience raising money for the Bethany House, and Kelsey Williams who will be spending her free periods volunteering at Mercy Hospital.

In its 2nd year, The AP Experience also introduced stricter guidelines for meetings and presentations. While last year you may have gotten away with just a brief weekly meeting and a shorter presentation, this year you are required to answer one of the weekly prompts given to you in your AP experience packet, keep weekly logs of how many hours you spent on your project, attend weekly meetings, and prepare a 7-10 minute presentation conducted during finals week. There are also stricter policies about partner projects, where you must have a partner who has a similar number of AP classes participating so that the burden of the project does not fall heavily on one student.

Another main concern last year was that the AP experience led to the flooding of the library and resource centers with students who now have off for multiple periods in a row. In order to mitigate library and resource center overcrowding, students are now provided with a list of open rooms (occupied by a participating AP experience teacher) where they may go to study or work on their projects.

One of the teachers who is participating in the AP experience is Mr. Woods. When asked why he chose to participate in the AP experience, he responded “I think it is another method of education with freedom, exploration and joy in what you are doing. Why not?” Mr. Perri has also chosen to take part in the AP experience. When asked the same question, he stated that “I chose to participate in the AP Experience because I thought it was an interesting and genuine opportunity for students to explore their interests as they approached graduation. The quality of the projects and presentations last year proved this to be true.”

Overall, it seems that many students and teachers are excited that Oceanside has decided to continue with the AP experience and are looking forward to seeing how all of this year’s diverse and exciting projects turn out.