Gov. Livingston students who took Advanced Placement (AP) exams for U.S. History, European History, Micro and Macro Economics, and Psychology last May received top scores, beating the national average. As a result of the reputations of these classes and the educators who teach them, these courses are incredibly popular among students.
AP U.S. History is a two-year class at GL. The first course, referred to by students as APUSH I, was taught by April Burke and Jaqueline Bartlett. Benjamin Bolger teaches the second year, APUSH II. In 2019, an overwhelming 93 students took the AP exam for this course and 85% passed.
As one of the most information-heavy courses, the APUSH exam is incredibly difficult. Bolger said, “The class allows you to go into greater depth in U.S. history, analyze documents, and have a better understanding of the nation. The skills practiced in this class will benefit you in college.”
Junior Kelly Donfield, a current student in Bolger’s class said, “I really love his lectures. He really engages the whole class and discusses the history on a more personal and understandable level rather than just from the book.”
AP Micro and Macro Economics is taught by Megan Wranitz. Many schools teach AP Economics as separate classes. But at GL the classes are taught as a full year, with one semester being dedicated to each course. In 2019, 100% passed the Macro exam and 97% passed the Micro exam.
Wranitz, who has taught for over a decade and is an experienced AP grader, said, “In this class, for students to be successful they have to be committed. The base preliminary concepts must be mastered independently. I help take them to the next level.”
Senior Lucas Piccininni is an AP Economics student with Wranitz. He said, “I really enjoy her simulations connected to the stuff we’re learning. My favorite was the factory simulation, where we learned about specialization and diminishing marginal returns.”
AP European History is a one year course taught by Sharon Leahy. Leahy is also a table and question leader for the AP exam grading. In 2019, 100% of the students who took the test passed the exam, nearly double the national average. Leahy said, “[The class] focuses on a variety of skills such as argumentation, analysis of sources, making historical connections, and working with others. Honestly, it will improve skills for any field or profession.”
Matt Zhao, a senior, is currently enrolled in the AP European History. “Transitioning from AP US History, the reading is a lot more demanding but the class is really rewarding. I really loved the mock trial of King Louis, and I look forward to our next mock trial in the spring,” Zhao said.
Although AP Psychology is not a class taught at GL, Todd Decker, who teaches Human Behavior, prepares his students to be able to take the exam. In 2019, 39 students took the exam and 72% passed.
Decker said, “Students are exposed to major thinkers,theories, and phenomena associated with the major subfields of psychology. They also learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice.”
Students who may have not originally thought of taking the exam sign up for it because of how prepared they are after taking Decker’s class. Junior Nick Tarabokia said, “Mr. Decker’s teaching has motivated me to take the AP Psychology exam. One of my favorite activities we did was when we connected the wellness room and wellness walk with what we’re learning in class.”
Although these courses are not always the easiest classes to take, the percentage of students passing these exams speaks volumes. Students continue to enroll in these classes, allured by the success of history courses in past years.