06242018 Headline:

AP Biology at RAHS?

Students and staff push for an AP Biology class

By Katie Taylor

Biology teacher Jennifer Cullison is excited about the idea being able to teach AP Biology, a class for which students have been advocating.

Biology teacher Jennifer Cullison is excited about the idea being able to teach AP Biology, a class for which students have been advocating.

AP Biology, a much-desired addition to RAHS’ STEM curriculum, is closer than ever to becoming a reality. Students and teachers have shown strong support for this development. RAHS Biology teacher Jennifer Cullison is an advocate of the AP class.


“I would be in favor of teaching an AP Biology class,” said Cullison. “It would provide students with a great opportunity to learn more about biology and prepare for taking higher level biological science classes in college.”


While a lot of progress has been made toward the implementation of this class, there are still some grey areas ahead.


“I do think that it is very likely that we will be able to offer this class in the next five years [or less],” said Cullison. “[However,] at this time we are trying to see when implementing the class would be most effective with our current schedule. I can’t speak to exactly when that will be.”


This uncertainty is due to factors beyond RAHS itself. The Highline School District will need to approve this idea as well.


“Approval and funding from the district [are] needed in order to start this class,” said Cullison.


Of course, juniors like Stella Sisson are pressed for time, though. As a result, she and Henry Crockett, another junior, have been doing their best to bring about AP Biology’s implementation before they graduate.


“We just went to talk to Ms. Cullison [at the beginning of February],” said Sisson, “and we said, Henry and I, ‘Can you please back us and support us when we go talk to [Principal] Tipton? Are you onboard with that?’ And she said that we already have been talking about it, but the big decision is whether to have it next year or the year after. That’s what they’re trying to say, and she said ‘If you want this next year, then go tell her because that’s kind of what we’re trying to decide right now.’”


Tipton herself says that she would be in favor of an AP Biology class as long as it fits with our school.


“As a highly-successful school that prepares students for college and careers and beyond, I think that adding an AP class like AP Biology would really benefit our students,” said Tipton. “It would just depend on if we could fit it into the schedule, and also we do need to look to our mission of ‘Is AP Biology still in service of the aviation and aerospace piece [of the school], or would something like AP Environmental Science be a better fit?’ So, I’m definitely in favor of looking at high-level classes like that for our students.”


Sisson agrees that adding an AP Biology class would help prepare students for STEM in college and their careers.


“I think it’s a great opportunity to boost the reputation of the school and give students more options for science,” said Sisson. “I mean, for a STEM school we only have three AP science classes, and to me that is crazy.”


Sophomore Paul Richards shares Sisson’s opinion that RAHS could benefit from a wider variety of advanced science classes.


“I think it would be really cool to have [this class] for students who want to explore life sciences, along with other things because biology is a large part of, and probably will continue to become a large part of, space exploration,” said Richards. “That’s one of the biggest questions we have, right?: Is there other biology [in the universe]? And also, how does our biology survive in space?”


In addition to AP Biology, there are other AP classes that students like Richards would be interested in taking at RAHS.


“[I wish we had] AP Psychology, or anything psychology-related,” said Richards. “We have zero sciences in relation to psychology, and, if you think about it, it’s a big part of aviation, especially in relation to pilots and astronauts and things like that.”


No matter what other science classes students are hoping for, though, their integration would be another sure-footed step toward RAHS’ goal of producing graduates who will lead the way in STEM.
“If we really want to produce people who have a wide understanding of a lot of different sciences and are able to integrate and cross-apply different sciences for different fields,” said Richards, “then we’re going to have to expose them to more sciences, and right now we can’t do that because we don’t have those [other advanced] science classes.”

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