Subject selection can be a stressful time, especially for freshmen. With the wealth of honors classes available, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. I have spoken with teachers of the honors classes for each of the main subjects available to sophomores. They gave insight on to what their classes offer and what is needed to succeed in their course.
All sophomores are required to take a geometry class. Students who wish to advance further in math may take honors Geometry instead of the regular Geometry course. I spoke to Mr. Leong, who teaches honors Geometry and honors Algebra about the advantages of the advanced course. He explained that the accelerated class allowed him to “Challenge the students with problems that the regular classes don’t get to,” as well as allowing students to cover more material. Mr. Leong also explained that Geometry is a very different subject than what is covered in previous math class. He emphasized the students in his class are able to “raise the bar” on themselves, and are driven to succeed on their own, although he also said that it is important that students do ask questions when they are confused. He described the work as “A fair load, but not a heavy load,” and that he did not try to overwhelm students with homework. Mr. Leong stated that he would also encourage all students to take Algebra 2 Honors in their sophomore year as well, especially if they were interested in taking AP Calculus, as taking Calculus is not an option for students who do not double up in math.
English 2 Honors
English 2 Honors is a very selective and very challenging course. Students must take an essay test for placement in English 2 Honors, as well as getting a teacher recommendation. I spoke with Mr. Kannengiezser about the course. He focused on the independence offered and the wider scope of the course, explaining that he “assigned independent text to read outside of class, and often times we’re reading that text in comparison to an in class novel.” This leads to students reading two to four novels per year entirely outside of class. When I asked about the homework load, Mr. Kannengieszer stated that the homework was generally the same amount assigned to his regular class in addition to the out of class text. Mr. Kannengieszer said that to succeed in his class “one needs to be motivated, they need to reflect, and they need to strive for improvement.” He emphasized the importance of growth, as students in his advanced class are generally very talented writers who are capable of taking the next step in their writing.
African-American History Honors
All sophomores are required to take African-American History, which they have the option to take at the honors level. I spoke to Mr. Palazzolo, who explained that “The way that I think about the honors course is that I think about it as preparation for AP and IB classes.” He explained that he tries to design his essay prompts like his IB essays, noting that his advanced class would generally have more complex essays with higher level analysis than his regular course. He will also include different readings and class discussions in his honors class. Mr. Palazzolo noted that he also included more historians’ perspectives on these events with his honors class. When asked about the workload, he described the homework as “mostly reading and independent note taking around that reading,” as well as occasional writing assignments and research papers. When I asked him what students needed to succeed he emphasized ability to take feedback, attention to detail, and ability to ask questions and engage with the material.
Students have multiple advanced options for their physics course, as both honors and AP Physics is offered. I spoke with Dr. Feofanov, who teaches AP Physics, to understand the difference between the classes and the benefits of both. He stated that AP Physics was deeper and allowed for a greater understanding than a regular Physics class. Dr. Feofanov described Physics as a new language, and stated that AP Physics requires one to delve deeper into the language of Physics to succeed. He also explained that work outside of school was important, as he estimated students needed to work for around an hour a day with the material. He also stated that using the practice material he provides is very important for success. Aside from work outside of school, Dr. Feofanov emphasized the importance of asking questions and not falling back on concepts from math classes, which do not always translate into physics. He noted that the biggest difference between AP Physics and Physics Honors is that AP Physics focuses more heavily on mechanics, making it a better option for students interested in engineering and computer science, while Physics Honors offers a more general understanding of Physics for students who may be more interested in other scientific fields.
All languages have honors options available. Each advanced language option is different depending on the teacher, but they all are designed to prepare students who are interested in continuing in that language for IB language courses or to eventually take AP language senior year. Students interested in taking an advanced language class should talk to their teachers to learn more about what the advanced course would entail.
Miller Gentry-Sharp (281)