AP Art History is History…For Now

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AP Art History is History…For Now

Art history textbooks scattered around the art classroom.

Art history textbooks scattered around the art classroom.

Photo by Ashley Veazey.

Art history textbooks scattered around the art classroom.

Photo by Ashley Veazey.

Photo by Ashley Veazey.

Art history textbooks scattered around the art classroom.

Sophie Maxwell, Staff writer

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As Open House rounded the corner, students were excited to receive their schedules to see what classes they had been given and who their teachers were. But as some students checked their schedules, they began to see a worrying pattern. Where was AP Art History?

This year was the second year that Chamblee art teacher Mattie Bell would allegedly be teaching the course, but those that selected it on their schedules soon realized that this was not the case. 

“I heard about [the class being dissolved] from some people during the summer,” said junior Smrithi Satish, who had signed up last semester to take the class. “When I went to Open House, I asked Mrs. Bell, and she told me that it was dissolved.”

This was upsetting for students like Satish, mainly because of the class’s reputability. Junior Olivia Roberts was one of those excited at the prospect of being able to take this college-level course.

“I found out about it last year while I was in Drawing II, […] and Ms. Bell had spoken about it before,” said Roberts. “I knew some seniors [at the time] who were taking it, and they seemed to enjoy it. I got to see the type of notes that they would do for that class. [I also chose it because] I’m very interested in art.”

Bell explained that AP Art History was eventually dissolved because the art department had too many classes but not enough teachers. 

“We had a fair amount of interest in the class, but I think part of the problem [was that] we had also a lot of interest in all of the visual arts classes, and so I think they felt like they needed an additional beginning level art class versus including that in the schedule,” said Bell. “I believe 20 to 22 [students had signed up for the class].”

Instead of teaching AP Art History, Bell was given a completely different course. 

“I took over the photo program when [previous photography teacher] Mrs. Georges left, so that’s four periods of my day,” said Mrs. Bell. “[In] my one extra period, I’m teaching a co-coded Drawing II and AP Drawing class. That was the period where I would probably be teaching AP Art History.”

Because the elective these select students had chosen was now no longer available, they were placed into other electives they had not signed up for.

“They put me in sixth period Intro to Team Sports which is the opposite of what I would ever want to do,” said Roberts. “I thought if I presented it clearly to [the counselors, like], ‘This is what you could do to fix my schedule,’ which in this case it was to move my AP Lang class to sixth period […] and have my second period free to take sculpture, [they would change my schedule].”

The dilemma is, though, that school policy decrees that students are not allowed to request an elective course change, so many of these students have not been met with much accommodation.

“Once we were halfway through [the second] week, and [my schedule change] wasn’t done, […] I realized it was too late for me to adjust to a new teacher regardless, so I’m still in the process of trying to get that fixed,” said Roberts.

Satish, on the other hand, was one of the lucky few to acquire a fixed schedule. 

“They put me in Computer Science, which is not what I wanted to do at all,” said Satish. “I submitted a request for Drawing and Painting, [but] it wasn’t until the very last day that my schedule could be changed [that they fixed it].”

Even though it did not work out this year, Bell is optimistic that AP Art History will be offered next school year.

“We’re definitely going to advocate for it to come back next year. That’s my goal, [and] that’s our goal as a department. We think it’s a really valuable class. A lot of the students loved the class, and […] there still is a lot of student interest from underclassmen for next year,” said Bell. “Our goal is to talk to administration and get more interest, even from the student body, so we can have more students in the class.”

For students, the biggest disappointment throughout this whole complication might have been the way it was handled. 

“I wish that they had given some sort of formal memo to those who had signed up for AP Art History, so we could at least know and try to act quicker,” said Roberts. “Had I known in advance that this was happening, I would have tried to do something about it [and] find another course or specifically request another course elective.”