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Hundreds of sophomores and juniors and their parent/guardians attended the first Pathways to AP Forum, held last month at Evanston Township High School on Jan. 17. Dale Leibforth, Pathways to AP Forum Coordinator, said, “All ETHS students should challenge themselves in the area of their passion and seek to maximize the potential within themselves.  AP courses are one way to do this.” Mr. Leibforth chairs a committee whose charge is to increase the number of students, particularly potential first-time AP students and students of color, enrolled in AP courses and help ensure their success along the path and once they get to those courses. 

The committee has been working on a variety of initiatives, including this forum, to ensure that they reach their goal.  One of the committee’s next goals for the year is to expand the AP Boot Camp program, which helps prepare students heading into AP courses.  Over the past two years, this has been a series of sessions in August.  The committee is looking to expand the program into the spring during the Wildkit Academy sessions.  

During the evening, the following ideas were discussed:  how to increase access to the rigor of AP by showing a clear pathway to AP courses; the current supports to ensure success on the pathway to and while taking AP courses; the impact of taking AP courses on college and career planning; tapping into students’ interests and passions; striving for balance and well-being; discussing the challenge of AP, effective effort required and perseverance; and seeing AP through the eyes of teachers, students and parents.  One of the highlights of the evening was the student/teacher/parent panel discussion.

District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, who was attending another meeting, gave a video presentation. Other faculty described the vision of ETHS and the importance of AP classes :Mark Onuscheck, English Department chair; Leah Piekarz, lead counselor; Beth Arey, College and Career Coordinator; and Alicia Hart, assistant director of student supports and equity. Ms. Arey said, “The message of this forum and all college and career programs at ETHS focus on awareness, access and success.  We want that for you in high school, but we also want that for you in college and beyond.” 

 Mr. Leibforth said, “The point of the forum was to get valuable information out to the community, but it was also the beginning of our next steps to achieve the ETHS vision of equity and excellence for all students.”