AP African American amplification

New AP course added to curriculum


Jamar Hester

Debra Skadden teaches her World History class about the Cahokia tribe Feb. 10. Next year, Park will be adding a new history class called AP African American Studies.

Alicia Mainjeni

AP African American Studies has been in development for 10 years and College Board recently approved for the course to be piloted in high schools across the United States, for the 2023-24 school year. Park is one of the various highschools implementing this course next year. The addition of this course means changes in curriculum for students and a new teaching gauge for educators. 

Social studies teacher Emma Engebretson said that this course provides an opportunity for students to engage in material focused on BIPOC experiences.

“It’s a really great opportunity. AP has never offered a course that’s focused on BIPOC experiences and this is a really awesome class,” Engebretson said. “AP African American Studies is new, it’s a pilot and it’s giving an opportunity for all students, especially students of color, the opportunity to participate and be a part of an AP class.”

Sophomore Paige Descarpentrie said participating in this course would be valuable to her education because it would allow her to learn new material.

“It is beneficial because I will be able to learn more,” Descarpentrie said, “It is beneficial for everybody because the material is important to learn and we haven’t had it before. It’s important for the curriculum to be added.” 

Senior Maecee Alexander, said that expanding knowledge on a personal level by taking the course will allow her to inform her peers.

“I want to educate myself more so that I can educate other people who may not be educated enough,” Alexander said.

According to Engebreton, AP African American studies marks the start of diversifying curriculum, and she hopes that College Board continues to expand the curriculum they offer.

“AP has never offered a course that is dedicated to centering the voices of BIPOC people. I’m hoping it’s opening the door for College Board to start offering more diverse classes for their AP curriculum,” Engebretson said. “Students can start getting college credit for a more diverse array of classes within College Board. It’s a really great opportunity with a lot of positives.”

Principal LaNisha Paddock said the name “studies” holds significance in regards to what educators teach the course and the curriculum offered.

 “It’s not history, it’s studies, which opens it up to more opportunities (such as), what the content will be and who could potentially teach the course,” Paddock said.

Alexander said learning about African American history is important for Park. 

“It makes me feel good because I know I’m going to be learning about the history of African Americans, and that’s important for our school,” Alexander said.

Descarpentrie said informing students about course material is one way of encouraging students to participate.

“Telling students what (courses) are about is encouraging,” Descarpentrie said. “Not many people will take it if they don’t know what it’s going to be like and what the curriculum will be or what they will be doing in (the class).”

According to Engebretson, diversity within the classroom has potential in AP African American studies. 

“I’m hoping that the student demographics will look different. Typically most of our AP classes are predominantly white students, and I’m hoping that this class will look different racially,” Engebretson said. 

According to Alexander, she hopes the class offers an open area for students.

“I hope it offers a space where students can pick what they want to learn about and allows people to use their voice,” Alexander said.

Paddock said she has high hopes for student interest in the school year that is approaching.

“We’re going to pilot it, we’re going to see how it goes,” Paddock said. “We’re hoping that there’s a lot of interest this upcoming school year.”

AP African American history is a course offered to seniors starting in the 2023-24 school year. After monitoring interest in the course, Park will look to expand during the 2024-25 school year.