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Column: "Advanced Placement Opportunities: A SnAPshot "

St. Vrain Valley Schools recognizes the transformative power of Advanced Placement

St. Vrain Valley Schools recognizes the transformative power of Advanced Placement® (AP) classes, which offer outstanding opportunities for students to engage in rigorous, college-level coursework, preparing them for postsecondary education, and providing the chance to earn college credit upon scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam. AP coursework contributes to academic excellence while empowering students to save on tuition costs and potentially graduate college in less than four years. St. Vrain Valley Schools offers students a robust and comprehensive selection of 36 AP courses across its high schools. Here is just a glimpse of the available course options within our district.

AP Biology, taught by Jeff Klipstein at Lyons Senior High School

AP Biology covers a diverse range of study units including evolution, energy processing, cellular organization, inheritance, and genetics. The course offers a rigorous, hands-on curriculum, with students engaging in laboratory work every other week. These practical sessions focus on dynamic fields such as molecular biology and genetics, cultivating students’ skills in data collection, analysis, and interpretation. In classroom lectures, AP Biology instills essential theoretical knowledge while fostering a global perspective. Through discussions on the interconnectedness of humans and the environment, students gain a better understanding of their role in the world. The speed and depth of material covered is extensive, providing students with a college-level experience. 

AP Comparative Government, taught by Jami Revielle at Frederick High School

AP Comparative Government delves into the intricacies of political structures and processes across different nations, offering students a comprehensive view of global governance. By analyzing the unique challenges, ideologies, and mechanisms inherent in diverse political systems, students gain a comprehensive understanding of the world’s complexities. This course enhances students’ analytical skills and cultivates a broader perspective, encouraging them to critically evaluate and appreciate the cultural and historical contexts that shape political decisions. The course includes a variety of lectures, discussions, and projects to facilitate learning. Ultimately, AP Comparative Government equips students with the knowledge and tools necessary for active, informed global participation and promotes a deeper appreciation for the multifaceted nature of democracy and governance worldwide.

AP Economics, taught by Eric Eiseman at Longmont High School 

AP Economics offers two distinct courses. AP Microeconomics delves into the functions of individual decision-makers—consumers and producers—emphasizing product and factor markets, as well as the government’s role in promoting efficiency and equity. Meanwhile, AP Macroeconomics provides a comprehensive understanding of economic principles at the system level, covering national income, price-level determination, economic performance measures, the financial sector, stabilization policies, economic growth, and international economics. Both courses contribute to students’ preparation for careers in business or public service, and enhance their role as informed consumers, voters, and valuable contributors to society.   

AP European History, taught by Gabriel Fishman at Erie High School

AP European History charts the changes in society, politics, economics, and culture across Europe from the Renaissance to the present day. Students are immersed in the inner workings of Western Civilization and its impacts on our modern world. The course places a significant emphasis on Europe’s political landscape and various artistic movements, providing students with a global perspective on cultural evolution across the continent and beyond. With a strong emphasis on writing and discussion, students hone their analytical skills and fine tune their argumentative writing and speaking abilities through the use of primary sources from a wide array of perspectives. The course examines some of the most influential events in history from the French Revolution to World War I and II. AP European History broadens students horizons and equips them with a sharper lens to perceive and understand the world around them. 

AP Music Theory, taught by Abigail Judy at Mead High School

AP Music Theory enhances student musicians’ overall musical comprehension and ability to collaborate in ensemble settings. The course begins with the fundamentals of music, including notes on the music staff, multiple types of scales, time signatures, triads, and 7th chords. The content advances into music analysis and composition through part writing. A key focus throughout the year is on aural skills, encompassing sight singing, ear training, rhythmic dictation, melodic dictation, and harmonic dictation. AP Music Theory eases into singing by starting the year with kazoos to create a comfortable environment for students. These skills collectively enhance students’ ability to comprehend and identify what they hear, even without sheet music. 

AP Seminar, taught by Nikki Tobias at Silver Creek High School

AP Seminar is an introductory, academic skills and discussion-based class designed to equip students with the essential tools for success as they progress in their AP coursework. Students engage in tasks they will encounter in college or the workforce, such as conducting research, collaborating with team members, and delivering their findings through an oral presentation format. Students practice the roles of independent researcher, argumentative writer, team member, presentation designer, and public speaker. Unlike many content-centered AP classes, students earn their AP score based on multiple measures, including two essays, two presentations, and one exam, rather than one single end-of-year exam.