Helping Students Make History

In the last four years that I’ve attended Hanover High School, I rarely heard justified complaints about the high school’s academics.  We have a building of motivated, talented, and educated people looking over us; our faculty works tirelessly to give HHS students opportunities we often don’t even recognize.   It is to further our success, only, that I wanted to critique our history class system.  While the science, language, and math departments have honors classes, the whole social studies department has none.  The English department has a 5-phase system, while the only ‘phased’ social studies class is a Survey version of US History.  There are many ambitious students who are being slightly shorted- losing the 0.5 GPA weight that some colleges give- because of this distinction.

The importance of a class, though, is surely not it’s grade.  Likewise, the Honor level of a course offers much more than GPA compensation.  Discussion based classes, including many History courses, benefit even more from an accelerated level; ambitious classmates and curriculum can have a huge effect on a student’s focus. Furthermore, many of the most ambitious careers have roots in History Electives.  A hopeful pre-Law student could benefit from an Honors Law class more than from Street Law or Constitutional Law, and it could test if the student is ready for such a challenging ambition.  Economics, Media, Psychology, and Politics are all career ambitions as well as electives.  An honors experience in one’s planned major can be enlightening; it may help catalyze a career decision the student would’ve made later in college, saving time and money.

Furthermore, it would just more be fair this way.  The three history courses available Freshman through Junior year are taken by all HHS students.  A few of these classes could be brought to an honors level, giving the option of honors history to all HHS students. Enough students could fill an honors classroom, and the honors students, ambitious and interested, will pursue learning faster than the old curriculum’s restraints.  Due to the rigorous requirements of some history courses, there are already students typing pages of notes for many history classes and electives, and an (H) on the portal would reward their effort fairly.  If there is a question about efficiency of the phased system, or about if we want to stratify history students, why are we already putting Math Science and Language students through it?  I am simply advocating for equal rights to hard working non-STEM students.

I am sure that if this idea was brought into the council, faculty, and administrative conversations, we could create a working system.  Although I do not know the best way for Honors history classes to work, since I am ignorant on scheduling and class size guidelines, I believe that the Social Studies department could figure out a working model.