by Casey Keane
According to the school’s profile, Jamesville-DeWitt High School is a “highly competitive comprehensive public high school.” There is a wide range of classes students can decide to take that are more challenging than the Regents level that will enrich their learning. The students of J-DHS have the option to take high level classes like Advanced Placement (AP), and Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA). In the school, these classes offer a more rigorous curriculum that is intended to better prepare students for what it’s like in college. So far this year, I have taken close to a half year of SUPA Writing 105 and have gained an inside look into what a college class is like. And let me tell you, it’s a whirlwind of emotions.
There are a lot of options when students decide they want to challenge themselves in a harder class through participating in SUPA or AP level of a course. Syracuse University Project Advance offers a Psychology class, an English class, and a Public Speaking class at J-DHS. The Advanced Placement classes taught at the high school are: Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, Computer Science, English Language, English Literature, European History, French, Physics, Spanish, Statistics, U.S. History, World History, and Music Theory.
When deciding what classes a student wants to take throughout the year, there’s a lot to think about: what they are interested in, what their schedule is like, how much work is involved, etc. When I decided to sign-up for SUPA Writing 105, also known as SUPA English, I considered that I had not yet taken an AP or SUPA course. It was stressful to decide because not only had I never been taught at such a high level, but I also didn’t know the teachers. But for senior Chelsea Colton, choosing AP Spanish was an easy decision. “I had taken regular Spanish for three years before deciding to take AP Spanish my senior year,” says Colton. Colton also says Spanish teacher Hank Cline has always been a great teacher and made her want to take AP Spanish this year.
The teachers at J-DHS really seem to make an impression on their students. English teacher Courtney Romeiser has been teaching at J-DHS for 10 years, and taught three years at Victor before coming to J-DHS. With that much experience, she holds a valued spot as the AP Language and Composition teacher for juniors this year. Mrs. Romeiser states that SUPA and AP differ from each other because SUPA is more of a semester investment with commitments to the college curriculum. Mrs. Romeiser says there are expectations to raise your game from a student to a college student with the writing, paperwork and investment in class discussions. “Sometimes I think the pace of these courses goes a bit quicker,” says Mrs. Romeiser. “But I still think there are skills that need to be taught that are sometimes strategic towards the tests.”
Mrs. Romeiser says that with being a student at such a high level comes with a certain level of maturity. “There are a lot of demands, the organization that is needed, and the responsibility of getting work done without being prodded regularly,” says Ms. Romeiser. These are just a few of her expectations for her students. A level of engagement is also needed in these high level courses. Theresa Groman has taught AP Chemistry for 17 years and describes the course as very high level, “with a lot of material to get through.” Mrs. Groman says the class is very fast with little time to give examples in the notes, because they only meet a couple of days a week, so there’s not a lot of time for the labs and practice. Mrs. Groman said that it is not just stressful for the students but for the teachers. “It’s a lot of work. My one AP class takes the amount of time my three honors classes does,” says Mrs. Groman.
Senior Heather Nyman is taking SUPA Writing 105 which is paired with a second semester of SUPA Literature. SUPA Writing is Nyman’s first high level class, and says it’s a lot of work, but a great learning experience, which Nyman says will give us the upper hand in analyzing. “It tests my limits,” says Nyman. “It’s hard, demands a lot, and has kept me up late,” Nyman adds. Being in the same class as Nyman, I have to agree with how hard it is but it will definitely be beneficial with college right around the corner. Though the course demands a lot of work, and sleep some nights has been questionable, Nyman says one key way she handles the stress from this course is by sleeping. Everyone planning on taking SUPA English next year should “be prepared to lose a lot of sleep but prepare to feel more self confident in your writing,” advises Nyman.
I have to agree with Nyman when she says be prepared. It’s very easy to get caught up in the stress of SUPA and AP classes because of the high level teaching and hours of work put into it. But ultimately, the course is worth it. You gain more reading and writing skills and how to analyze papers, but you also gain the understanding of what kind of student you are and how you can handle stress. Stress is inevitable in school, in general. By taking a college class while you’re still known as a high school student is even more stressful. But there’s no doubt it’s worth it at the end of the day with the lessons you learn through these classes.