ior Austin Barnes accepts his incentive for passing one or more AP tests.

Archived Story

Sparkman AP students awarded

Published 6:59pm Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Sept. 27, a group of well-dressed high school students walked one by one across the small stage and received a labeled envelope. Inside each envelope was a congratulatory certificate and a check for at least $100.

These particular students were at the end of a yearlong journey in at least one AP class at Sparkman High School. Many of them, now seniors, are currently enrolled in more this year, choosing to again take advantage of the intensive AP program for its rigor, potential college credit and monetary incentive.

“AP is a unique opportunity for our students to excel not only academically, but also intellectually as well,” Sparkman Principal Manual Wallace said.

The AP ceremony in the school’s gym was intended to formally recognize last year’s successful AP students before an audience of their parents and peers. Community leaders and advisors as well as leaders in the advanced placement program also attended to show their support and pride.

“Saturday morning we had about 500 students in this school [for the AP study session]. That’s unusual for teenagers in this state. That shows me what you’re made of right there,” Superintendent Dr. Terry Davis said.

Before presenting the students with their reward money, Assistant Principal Gayle Owen took the time to brag on this past year’s statistics. In 2011, there was a 12 percent increase in qualifying AP scores, a 28 percent increase in the AP score average and a 190 percent increase in AP scholars- students who qualify on three or more AP exams. In the past two years, 1,115 AP exams have been administered at Sparkman under the A+ College Ready program. Test-taking confidence has also increased: 16 percent more students attempted the ACT. Sparkman is now meeting and exceeding the national average in AP and ACT scores.

Gayle said that after the first year’s success, students were not expected to be able to give a stellar repeat performance.

“Well… you exceeded the expectations,” Owen said.

With the students’ success and new confidence comes the support and confidence of more local businesses. A+ College Ready is partnered with corporations like COLSA, SAIC, Aerojet, Dynetics, Redstone Federal Credit Union and Boeing. With such hefty support and a well-trained team of teachers, AP students have earned $41,200 in two years. Their college funds have been saved $505,200 in college credit- and their minds have gained something too.

“Students expect something from their teachers. They expect to be ready for college,” Owen said.

BY KELLY WALTERS / SPECIAL TO THE RECORD

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