Nonprofit group lauds AP students

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Going to college isn’t something every kid dreams of, but with the help of the Colorado Legacy Foundation, more than 70 Arvada High School students are beginning to dream big.

“I decided I would need the extra help for college,” Herman Musimbi, a junior at Arvada High said. “In AP English we really talk about social and ethical problems in the world, and it shows me that I don’t have to follow mainstream thought.”

The Colorado Legacy Foundation, an Arvada nonprofit, and the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), the Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent, Cindy Stevenson and Colorado Commissioner of Education, Robert Hammond, honored Arvada High School and 76 AP students for academic achievement at an all-school assembly, Nov. 19.

“There are 13 schools being honored today, but no school had greater than success than Arvada High School,” Stevenson said.

Arvada High is one of 13 schools involved in an incentives program with the Colorado Legacy Foundation. This program encourages students to take more rigorous coursework to prepare them for college and rewards those earning a top score at the end of the year with $100.

The students were honored for achieving a qualifying score of a 3, 4, or 5 on one or more AP exams. In the last year, 171 Arvada High students enrolled in the program and through extensive teacher training, new equipment, extra study time and Saturday study sessions, the percentage of students who earned a qualifying score increased by 95 percent — more than 10 times the state and national average.

According to the director of initiatives for the Colorado Legacy Foundation, Greg Hessee, this incentives program, a replication of the Comprehensive AP Program by the NMSI, gives students the extra push to ready themselves for college.

“The idea is that students do not challenge themselves in high school,” Hessee said. “We recruit students to engage in more rigorous coursework and use the AP math, science, and English classes as a vehicle for it.”

Arvada High initiated the program in 2012, with 120 students in AP classes. According to the school’s records, the number of students enrolled in AP classes has doubled in less than two years, a sign that Arvada High students, such as third-year student Desmas Archuleta, are searching for a challenge, and succeeding.

“I saw AP as a challenge and an opportunity to apply my knowledge,” Archuleta said. “There’s a need for more students in AP classes and this is an opportunity to do that.”

The NMSI Comprehensive AP Program was founded in 1995 and expanded to other states in 2006. Brought to Colorado in 2012, the Colorado Legacy Foundation launched a similar program in Arvada High School and 12 other schools across the state, but according to the Foundation and Jeffco Superintendent Stevenson, no other school’s success came close to Arvada High — an achievement both the students and the teachers, such as AP Science teacher, Grant Euler, are proud of.

“In all my time here this has well been the largest impact of anything we’ve done,” Euler said.

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