LEICESTER, Mass. — Leicester High School celebrated the endeavors of its "wicked smaht" students Thursday with an AP rally, an effort that educators hope will bolster excitement for the new Advanced Placement classes made available this year with the help of the recent Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative (MMSI) grant.
Like the rallies for the Leicester's athletic teams, the morning's celebration was meant to encourage those students who have taken a risk by enrolling themselves in the challenging AP courses, Principal Tom Lauder said.
Last year, Leicester High was accepted into the cohort for the MMSI Advanced Placement grant, which helped introduce new AP classes in math, science and English in addition to a new AP government class.
The MMSI initiative was organized by Mass Insight Education, in partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and private funders, and was designed to dramatically increase participation and performance of public high schools in rigorous, college level work in math, science, and English.
"When we came to Leicester last year to reach out to the superintendent and principal, we knew that (students) were not just a mountain, but a volcano of potential," said John Smolenski, enrollment director for MMSI.
In fact, with the implementation of the program, AP enrollment increased to 106 kids this year, with students now having nine AP subjects to choose from in chemistry, statistics, calculus, biology, environmental science, English literature, English language, government and history.
"When I first came here, we had two AP courses and now we have nine," said Lauder. "We're giving our kids a better opportunity to succeed in college. We're sending 99 percent of our kids off to college and some of those kids struggle."
Smolenski emphasized that the university-level AP courses will not only better prepare students for when they begin college, but also help them compete with kids from all over the country when they apply for college.
"Honors courses are great, but it's impossible for the admissions board to know the difference between an honors course here in Leicester and an honors course in any of the 26,000 high schools in America, because there's no test at the end. AP gives you that advantage," he said.