PVHS makes changes to science curriculum


Kushi Maridu

AP Chemistry, a class that focuses on hands-on college chemistry, will be discontinued due to a lower enrollment.

Kushi Maridu, Co-Editor-in-Chief

As the class of 2023 wraps up their academic year, the class of 2024 prepares to helm the mantle that the seniors have left behind. With this yearly cycle came an unprecedented change for the next school year: the AP Chemistry course will be discontinued and the Astronomy course will be shifting teachers.

This change came about due to the rapidly growing student population of the Pleasant Valley Community School District and the teacher shortage throughout the whole country.

PVHS Principal Darren Erickson explained that the administration tried their best to keep AP Chemistry in the school curriculum. “We only had about 10 people register for the course for next year. We all wanted to keep the course but it just wasn’t financially smart. It’s not that we don’t care about those students, it’s just a matter of how our resources are being used efficiently. The students will, of course, have an option to take the course online although we recognize it will not have the same impact,” Erickson shared.

AP Chemistry has been a popular course for the past few years. The class had around 20 kids this year, and more in the previous years. Originally taught by Liz Moritz, the class got transferred this year to Abby DeBaillie, a second year teacher at PV. The main goal of the course is to prepare students to take the AP Chemistry exam at the end of year by teaching a first-semester college chemistry level curriculum. 

Junior Shivesh Ganesh, a student aspiring to study medicine, was one of the few who signed up to take the class next year, but was left disappointed. “I was hoping to get college chemistry credit and some chemistry experience with the class. I might look into other ways now, such as online AP Chemistry or a dual credit course,” Ganesh said.

Even though the class of 2024 will not have the opportunity to take AP Chemistry, DeBaillie hopes to teach the class in future years. “I had so much fun teaching the class this year and would definitely be down to teach it down the line. It’s an awesome crew of kids but circumstances didn’t quite work out right for next year. Teachers were going to be spread thin so cutting the course was the best course of action,” DeBaillie stated.

In addition to AP Chemistry, the future of Astronomy, a dual enrollment course, is also up in the air. Astronomy is a brand new course that was brought to the school by physics teacher Ian Spangenberg in the 2022-2023 school year. Spangenberg also teaches both AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 courses and due to the high demand of these courses, Astronomy will likely be moved to a professor from Scott Community College.

“There were a lot of students that signed up for AP Physics 1 and 2 for next year and since Spang is the only one that teaches those classes, we assigned those to him. Astronomy, right now, is set to be taught by a Scott professor but it will be unclear until next year is upon us,” Erickson stated.

With the modifications of these classes also came the possibility of a new science course. AP Environmental Science is a course that might be offered at PVHS starting next year. This is an introductory AP class that discusses environmental and natural sciences.

“Our school is looking to provide AP Environmental Science either next year or the year after. It’s a nice AP class from what I’ve heard and the class usually provides a gateway to higher level AP classes. I think they’re putting this in because it’s a lot less tough than AP Chemistry, meaning more students are likely to take it,” DeBaillie shared.

With AP Environmental Science being added to curriculum, the school aims to provide a wider range of options for students interested in science. The potential addition of this course reflects the administration’s efforts to adapt to the changing needs and interests of the student population.

While some students may feel disappointed by the discontinuation of AP Chemistry, the option to take the course online or explore dual credit alternatives provides different pathways for those interested in pursuing advanced chemistry education.

As the class of 2024 still awaits the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, adjustments to the science curriculum reflect the ever-evolving nature of education and the school administration’s dedication to meeting the needs and aspirations of their students.