Out with the old, in with the new: Honors to AA


Faith Wallace

Honors is being redesigned as AA in order for greater equality and more opportunities. “Grades can be the determining factor of whether they can handle AA or regular, and then there’s no teaming that has to be restricted like whether they take it in the morning or the afternoon,” Jayma Hazelbaker said.

Honors was a program that invited E-flats and freshmen to take up on advanced courses in English, Science, and Social Studies and was intended to be a yellow brick road to AP courses. However, due to faculty concerns about the staffing and scheduling, the system will be thrown away entirely. The current E-flats will be the last grade to experience the honors program. 

Honors first began as a program that allowed the top 90 students of seventh grade to enter into a prestigious accelerated program. This changed under Mr. Stewart’s leadership, where kids who were in the top 95 to 100 percentiles could now enter into honors. It became more inclusive with a second group but less organized.

“Because it’s two different groups of teachers teaching it, you kind of lose control as to how it’s being taught and what projects are being done and all that other stuff kind of impossible to keep them the same,” Lisa Brocamp, a former teacher of ninth grade honors, said. “So then you get complaints about why did my kid have to do this and their kid or that group didn’t.” 

The struggle honors is facing in its last year is a similar struggle to what the rest of the student body is facing right now. 

The transition from having eighth graders in honors online and having ninth grade honors in-person is a struggle for knowledge and connection. “I actually feel more prepared this year than I ever have, but I can definitely tell that my students are not,” Jayma Hazelbaker, a ninth grade teacher for honors said. “Last year definitely put them in this wall of it’s okay to not do it right now because I can do it later and everything’s going to be on Schoology and I don’t need to study because I’ll be at home… and now they’re back here, and I’m challenging them to take a vocab quiz every week and they’re challenged to write their own procedure and use lab safety skills and take tests with no resources, and it’s really hitting hard on them.”  

The pressures of having to be an advanced student after being online is a measure of patience and stress.  When asked about how difficult honors was on a scale from 1 to 5, Eniola Olakanmi, ‘26 said, “I want to say it is 4.5 to five. I definitely prefer in-person than virtual learning, because the teacher can’t help you as much [online].” 

“In my AA classes they expect you to have the class average should be like 90 to 100%, compared to normal classes which expects you to be 80 to 100, or 70 to 100 which is acceptable,” Olakanmi said.

The stress of achievement and the stress of tradition caused problems within the system itself, spreading to regular classes. Due to the set limits of students for honors, regular college prep courses would get overloads of students. For ninth grade biology, there can be up to 40 students in a class, which makes it difficult to do regular labs or direct teaching. The administration is currently in the process of finding another teacher to step in and solve the problem. 

Many teachers feel as though the best thing we can do for honors is to let it die. “The seventh grade science curriculum in the eighth grade is not even close to the same ,seventh grade covers life and earth, eighth grade covers chemistry and physics. So, from our perspective, seventh grade doesn’t have a huge indication for success in eighth grade. So, with getting rid of the eighth grade first and making it more of a level playing field for everybody, and keeping everybody integrated for both of those grades we thought was best,” Hazelbaker said. 

The AA system would also let students take different advanced classes depending on their interests, giving students more of a choice on what they want to take, preparing them when they go into higher grades of learning. 

“I think AA is going to be just the same as the honors has always been,” Hazelbaker said. “The goal is just to make it more available to more students that are capable, instead of having the honors group that gets capped because there can only be so many students in three sections of a course.” 

During one of the most important moments of gaining better connection with your peers, AA allows more interaction and better connection outside of the groups. It also creates a better student body environment  for those who were not able to go into honors. 

“[Honors] pulls all of those kids out of the regular classes, and then the regular classes get this stigma of ‘oh we’re just the dumb kids,’ when that’s not at all true… they don’t have anyone to drive them a little bit,” Brokamp said. “It’s good to have a balance of everybody in the class, if that makes sense;  you can kind of match people up to bring the ones that are struggling, give them help. And, you know, I think that’s good for the high level kids too, that helps them if they can teach other kids helping kids.”