AP Art History and the future of classes at Saint Stephen’s


Sarabeth Wester

Creating a new class can be a way students can find their passions.

Jackson Nealis, Staff Writer

While students apply and decide their class schedule for next year, loading their plates with honors, AP and elective courses, students will have an opportunity to take a variety of Advanced Placement courses and luckily, there is one AP course that’s coming back for those interested in the history of art.

Students who choose to take AP Art History will be able to study the history of art in all its forms, from architecture to propaganda to religious images. Not only will the class analyze the overall meaning of these pieces, but also their purpose and how the pieces were used towards that purpose.

As course instructor Mr. Moore puts it, the class seeks to ask and answer, “what does the piece mean, why was it produced and how does the piece represent time period, medium, and function?”

AP Art History is not new to the Upper School. In fact, Mr. Moore taught the class for 12-15 years until it was discontinued. Despite the class’s initial popularity, changes in how the course was outlined by the College Board eventually made the class less enjoyable for students, leading teachers and administrators to remove it from the list of course options.

AP Art History was not brought back on a whim, but by students who had a passion for Art History.

English teacher Mr. Hoonhout, who took a course on the subject in college, is excited about the passion the students have. It was not only the class he remembers best from his undergrad years, but the course was also “the most interesting and the most relevant class to his future travels.”

His experience with an Art History class allowed him to understand art beyond just appreciating a pretty picture. While many enroll due to an interest in the humanities, visual and studio artists might also enjoy what AP Art History has to offer.

However, for those that are neither “humanities buffs” nor artists, there is a way to propose a course that will cater to their interests. If a student has an idea that could make its first debut at Saint Stephen’s, the best start is to talk to a teacher interested in teaching that class or the department chair.

Mr. Moore noted that “when an idea comes from the students and enough students can get on board, I’m always interested in trying to make that happen.”

Creating a class requires plenty of interest and the availability for a teacher that is able to teach the class. This not only applies to scheduling, but also to qualifications. For example, as enthusiastic as students are to enroll in AP Psychology (a course often offered at other schools), it lacks an instructor who has enough knowledge of the discipline to teach the class.

Taking the initiative to create a new course curriculum that engages a wide audience can be a rewarding way to improve your school experience. The largest barrier to a new class is lack of interest. AP Art History may not be available the year after next if students don’t get on board.

Creating a class requires a different and more challenging process than creating a club or an IQ activity. The longevity of a course is not guaranteed but don’t take that as discouragement! Find a class that meets your passions, find a group and go for it.

It might be a bit cliche, but high school can be a time for students to get a better understanding of what they want to do in life and find their passions. If certain electives are available to students to find those passions, then we should encourage their proposals.

According to Mr. Moore, “students that are open to the topic are more motivated to learn.” Take control of your school experience and work to not just take, but make the best classes possible for our school.