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Levy money helps kids at both ends of grade scale

From Advanced Placement Chemistry to the state-mandated WASL, Oak Harbor High School has classes to help students at both ends of the academic spectrum.

Those courses are funded by dollars from a levy that voters originally approved in 2001. That levy goes before voters again next month.

Currently students at the high school are enjoying a whole host of Advanced Placement classes, ranging from Statistics to the United States Government. Those classes provide a more rigorous learning environment that helps prepare students for a stressful college career, and in some cases gives them college credits in high school.

Dwight Lundstrum, high school principal, said students taking AP courses are three times as likely to succeed when they attend college.

“Without the levy, we couldn’t keep up with other schools,” Lundstrom said. “We would be remiss as a community not to offer those things.”

In Brandt Holden’s AP Chemistry class, enrollment has increased over the past three years. Currently 25 students attend the daily class.

Holden said the class moves at a college pace and students use a college textbook. The course is the equivalent of a general chemistry course students may take during the first year of college.

Throughout the school year students learn about topics such as thermochemistry to chemical kinetics.

Oak Harbor High School offers more than AP Chemistry. The levy also funds two sections of United States Government, Art, English, Biology and Statistics. It also funds an Integrated Science Class and a Spanish class at the high school.

In an AP Literature and Composition class, students are currently going through a variety of novels, including “Crime and Punishment” and “Great Expectations,” and the Shakespeare play, “King Lear.”

With every AP class, students can elect to take an AP Exam. If students score high enough, it can transfer into college credit. However, accepting credit depends on the policy of the individual college.

Even if the students don’t take the exam, the class allows students to familiarize themselves with college coursework.

“The rigor of the class helps them through college,” said teacher Mark Winford.

Fellow teacher Steve Whiteman said AP classes look good on a student’s transcript. It also saves a lot of tuition money if the credits are accepted by the college.

Oak Harbor School District voters head to the polls March 8 to decide whether to continue a levy they originally approved in 2001. The cost is 75 cent per $1,000 assessed value on a home.

In addition to the AP classes, the levy pays for art and physical education teachers at every elementary school, an extra 30 minutes to the elementary school day, and technology purchases.

At Oak Harbor High School, levy dollars pay for more than Advanced Placement classes. The levy dollars also help students who also struggling to pass classes and standardized tests.

School officials added academic support classes at the beginning of the year to provide extra instruction for students who failed classes last year and have had difficulty passing the Washington Assessment of Student Learning.

Those classes provide additional instruction in Math, English and Science. Approximately 65 students, part of a freshman “Island,” attend support classes.

“It’s designed to give kids additional support in those subject areas,” said Becky Templin, program coordinator at the high school.

In addition to the support class, the high school added two additional classes at the beginning of the semester for students who are in danger of failing freshman English.

Templin said the second class provides extra instruction to help students pass freshman English and acquire the skills necessary to pass the WASL, which is a new graduation requirement for this year’s freshman class.

In addition to the extra courses, approximately 200 of the school’s 480 freshmen have a student learning plan because they failed at least one part of the WASL. Those plans outline a way for students to pass classes and succeed in taking the WASL. In addition to suggesting the extra classes, the plans outlines ways students can be more successful with the class.

Templin, whose position is funded with levy dollars, has to contact parents of every student who has a plan. There’s plenty of additional work heading her way. The number of students with a plan will increase next year when another freshman class comes to the high school.

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