AP Art History Approved by District

Natalie Li, News Editor

A group of students has pushed for the addition of AP Art History as a course offering for the 2013-2014 school year. After much deliberation, the Acalanes Union High School District Governing Board approved the course on Wednesday, December 19.

AP Art History is a College-Board sanctioned course focusing on understanding works of art through a historical context, ranging from the past to the present in a variety of cultures. The idea originated from students in Molly Kerr’s AP European History class around May of 2012, led by junior Mitchell Carlson. “In AP Euro last year, we kept pestering Mrs. Kerr with materials for this course. We sent in a request to the textbook publisher to get a copy of the textbook and had the course planned out,” said Carlson.

According to Kerr, the students were the ones to get her interested, and she ended up developing their course proposal and presenting it to the department. “Before the proposal, the department was initially concerned about the course but since it was student-driven, it showed that there was a core amount of students interested,” she said.

The proposal was met with mixed feedback from the Instructional Councils at each school in the district. According to the Regular Board Meeting Agenda, there was not widespread faculty support, citing the prevalence of existing AP offerings. Nonetheless, Superintendent John Nickerson recommended the proposal to the Governing Board.

Following the approval by the Governing Board, the next step in the process is deciding which schools will be willing to offer the course. According to Principal John Walker, he will take feedback from the Instructional Council, counselors, and teachers to make this site-based decision by the end of the semester.

AP Art History has never been taught before in the district, according to Social Studies Department Head Lisa Herzig. Herzig believes that the course will be accessible. “Our thinking is that between AP Psychology and AP Art History, we can draw more seniors than juniors. There are a few students who want an AP World History course, so it would draw these students as well,” she said.

Having met with the students interested, Walker was impressed by their proposal. “I have been and will continue to be impressed with student interest in this course. They were eloquent and supportive. I am always excited when students pursue their academic interests,” he said.

Junior Olivia Bisel was among the group of students in favor of the course and plans on taking it if offered. “Students at Campo really want AP Art History because they enjoy learning how art has affected the course of history…but also how it affects us today,” she said. Bisel also believes that the course teaches skills valuable outside of the traditional curriculum. “It makes us appreciate culture more and look at the beautiful things in life. Other AP courses learn statistics or psychology but in AP Art History you learn an appreciation that can be applied across all fields, not just art.”

Herzig believes that the course should be offered at Campo. “Something that is well thought out by students deserves to be offered here; being an AP course- it’s a no brainer,” she said.