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Students Tackle Tough Classes

Junior Khaki Loughran and senior Mary Brooks Perkey stay after class to ask AP biology teacher Dr. Haizlip questions.
Photo: Sydnie Jiang

It is no surprise that Pace is well-known for its academic rigor, offering challenging classes that place students in the best position to succeed. There are a few classes at the Academy that certainly stand out in challenging students and their capabilities, whether it is because of the difficulty of the material itself or the heavy workload assigned by the teachers. For example, English teacher Ricks Carson’s AP English Language class challenges students’ intellect and makes them use all corners of their minds. “Mr. Carson does a fantastic job of stretching our personal beliefs and encouraging us to pursue more knowledge,” said senior Olivia Baker. AP Spanish similarly challenges students to think beyond the language and learn more about the culture to become citizens of the world, and despite the difficulty of this class, students are rewarded with higher language proficiency.

As for the rest of the humanities, AP European History is also one of the more arduous classes at Pace. It is the only AP class available to sophomores and the workload is heavy due to the amount of knowledge needed by May for the exam. AP World History is another class that challenges students because of the volume of material. In order to succeed, students need to read the textbook in case some materials cannot be covered in class. On the upside, Pace kids have an advantage over most of the country because students at Pace take AP World History as seniors, whereas students in other schools who take the class are commonly freshmen or sophomores.

A lot of the hardest classes at Pace are STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes, such as AP Physics C, AP Biology and AP Chemistry. Science department chair Dr. John Pearson teaches AP Physics C. He highly recommends that students take BC Calculus in conjunction with his class, and since both BC Calculus and AP Physics C are double period classes, they usually coincide for scheduling purposes. Students typically find AP Biology intimidating, mostly due to the vast amount of material, but also because of the specific details students are required to learn. AP Chemistry is also daunting to students because the material is so challenging. “AP Chemistry is a class that makes you care about learning the material more than the grade you get,” said senior Libby Sams.

Not all of the hardest classes at Pace are Advanced Placement courses. For example, the majority of math teacher Jason Smith’s classes are difficult because of the types of problems presented that really challenge students to think outside the box. “I think getting the length of the tests right is the biggest problem,” said Mr. Smith. “But I want students to know that they can get help from me any time they want.” Students do indeed capitalize on this opportunity, going to Mr. Smith for help on homework or before tests to sharpen their math skills.