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Shafter High School offers a growing variety of advanced placement courses

Shafter High Principal Russell Shipley says that within the last 10 years, AP offerings at the school have grown from three to 15.
students at shafter high school
Posted at 5:44 PM, Sep 15, 2023

SHAFTER, Calif. (KERO) — Classes are back in session at high schools across Kern County, and in Shafter, advanced placement, or AP, students are gearing up for another rigorous year of learning.

The concept of the power of education is one that runs deep in the Shafter community. In Shafter's schools, kids have fun, but inside the classroom last year, 116 Shafter High School students took 369 advanced placement tests. It might seem like a lot, but when looking at data from the spring semester, there are schools with more students taking more tests compared to Shafter. For example, Stockdale High School with over 1000 tests across 478 students.

Data from Shafter puts the school somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. At the low end of the data, a total of 6 AP students at Kern Valley High School took 7 exams.

Shafter High School principal Russell Shipley says these latest numbers for their students are a huge step from even just a decade ago.

"There was a time that we offered about 3 or 4, and as we began to move forward, it soon grew to 5, grew to 8," said Shipley. "And then it's hard to believe now, almost 10 years later, we got up as high as 15 different course offerings, and that was all based on, again, we just wanted to create every opportunity."

As for students in the program, Jacob Macias is a senior at Shafter High School, where they've started taking AP courses this year. Macias says the main reason behind taking the course was the challenge, but through the process, their goals for after high school changed.

"At first I wanted to major in something related to the sciences, maybe biology, but after taking calculus my junior year, I have totally switched gears and I'm more math/physics-based," said Macias. "I'm going to go in as a math major and I think I'm going to major in premed."

And it's not just at the high school where contributions are being made to the educational growth of the area. Previously, 23ABC reported on classes available to students all across the area free of charge with the Shafter Library and Learning Center, and Shipley believes that plays a big role in Shafter's success with its advanced placement program.

"I think it's a testament to just the hard work and sort of what we call the grit or That Shafter Way," said Shipley. "A lot of it is that vertical partnership that we have with the City of Shafter and the Learning Center, and sort of that early onslaught of academics."

Certainly, there's a difference when it comes to the rigor of the material in traditional high school classes versus advanced placement classes, but in Macias' mind, many students shouldn't feel intimidated by AP courses.

"I think that AP classes shouldn't have the stigma that they usually have. I think that a lot of kids think that, 'Oh, they're so hard,' and this and that, but it's really moreso just about the effort you put in," said Macias. "Your teachers will get you through the class for sure."

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