It’s Shakespeare’s longest play, but the students at Cedar Hill High School are breezing right through it in an AP Literature class on Hamlet.
The classrooms are full; 880 students are enrolled in AP here — that’s 571 more than just last year. Why?
“AP students weren’t recognized like it is now. I think since it’s recognized more, students want to get involved,” said student Jeremiah Tarver.
Cedar Hill High School was recently added to the Advanced Placement District Honor Roll. It's an honor by The College Board for schools that get more students to not only take AP classes, but score well on the end-of-semester test and earning credit for college.
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Cedar Hill saw gains, putting them on a list with high-performing schools like Southlake Carroll High School and Coppell High School.
“The perception is changing. You’re a school in the southern sector of Dallas, we’re a majority "minority" high school. And our goal is to show people, 'Hey! You can get a quality education here,” said Michael McDonald, principal.
The school’s new principal isn’t taking the credit. He said this all started from the students.
“Those students told us they wanted to be celebrated. There’s no attention to the AP students, so we came up with this AP plan,” recalled McDonald.
The plan includes a lounge where students can study. There’s a wall of fame to recognize top test-takers and financial incentives for high scores on their AP tests
The students are also encouraging their peers to join the club.
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“I get a lot of, “Oh that couldn’t be me. That couldn’t be me,” said student Demonjeh Powell.
“I try to explain to them it’s not as hard as you think it is, added Tarver.
“I’m not allowed to slack if I’m in AP. It gives me a challenge, something to do so I can push myself harder,” said student Donasia Jackson.
The goal is to make being smart cool again and for Cedar Hill to lead the way, not just in athletic championships, but academics as well.
“Everyone notices sports, theater, even graphic arts. Now the smart kids are finally getting their recognition because you can’t be a school without some smart kids in it,” said Powell.
Many schools are providing incentives to encourage more students to take AP classes, but not all those schools saw the same growth seen at Cedar Hill.