In 2016 I enrolled in a program called Running Start through my high school, East Valley. This program allows high school juniors and seniors to enroll at Yakima Valley College and take classes there for the last two years of high school. I highly recommend this program to any people looking into it.

I have particularly enjoyed being in Running Start because not only will I have my AA and high school diploma at the same time, but I also will have saved a lot of money in the long run. Currently each quarter as a Running Start student costs about $150 to $170, depending on fees and tuition toward earning 15 credits. Normally, enrolling for the same types of classes at YVC outside of Running Start would cost about $1,500 for 15 credits, not counting fees.

I have also enjoyed the atmosphere. For me, high school was just too slow, and not challenging enough. So being in college right now has been more of a challenge, but worth it.

Another advantage is the classes I have taken. I’ve been able to enroll in classes that my high school doesn’t offer, such as high-level psychology, philosophy, and communications.

I feel that I didn’t not miss out on “the high school experience” and, to be quite honest, I didn’t miss going to my high school at all.

If you or someone you know is currently looking into this program, I highly, HIGHLY encourage Running Start as a way to save money and get a different experience, but also for the literal running start you get regarding a college education.

— Trinity Grajeda, East Valley High School

The ‘little community’ of the IB program

The International Baccalaureate program at Davis High School comes with its pros and cons, like most things in the world. Most people have heard of Advanced Placement but do not have the slightest idea what the difference is. If you ask most IB students for clarification, they’ll make sure to let you know “IB is harder than AP.” And, in some cases, that is true.

IB offers an array of courses in six different groups: Studies in Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Experimental Sciences, Mathematics, and the Arts. For the majority of the courses within each group, there is a Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL), the difference being that most HL courses are two-year courses and some SL are only a single year. The HL courses require at least 240 hours of instruction time, while SL will require at least 150. HL courses also have additional curriculum and research required.

With this amount of time spent, the courses can be extremely stressful. But, for most HL courses, you can receive internationally recognized college credit.

I’ve taken HL biology, HL history of the Americas, HL English, SL music and SL math studies. As much as these courses have been challenging and unique from anything I’ve previously taken, the best part has been my teachers and the “school within a school.”

Davis has roughly 2,600 students, although being in the IB program means that most of your classes will be spent with the same people. Even while taking honors classes in your earlier years at Davis, you’ll make friends who will stick around with you until graduation. IB is like a little community within Davis, and has provided me with some of the greatest friendships that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

The teachers in the IB program (and at Davis in general) are some of the greatest instructors I could have ever asked for. For instance, as the daunting task of IB exams approached, my history teacher, Patrick Molohon, gave each and every one of his students miniature sharks representative of our individual personalities, since a lucky charm is one of the only items the IB allows in the testing environment. He attached cards with explanations of why he chose each shark, bringing to light the qualities of his students and giving them good luck to have during their exams. Gestures like this let students know teachers care, and if you ever have the chance to be taught by a teacher like Mr. Molohon, it’ll make your entire experience that much better.

It’s the teachers, the community feel and the curriculum that make IB worth it, no matter the hardship.

Alexis Weber is a senior at Davis High School.

AP offers you a community with small classes and long exams

I’m writing this article in the midst of Advanced Placement exam week. My vision is limited by the pile — dare I say “small mountain” — of AP United States history notes, books, and flashcards sitting in front of me. The dreaded exam is in two days, and I am something of an emotional wreck.

By the time you read this, the AP exam season will be over and, hopefully, I will have returned to my normal, cheerful state. But, all of my present stress aside, I do love AP classes.

As a freshman I dreamed about the day when I set foot in my first AP classroom. I was enchanted by the AP structure, involving a fast-paced curriculum, class discussions and an exam that might earn college credit. I knew I had to take advantage of the chance to work so hard. I desired a challenge, and I’ve found just that: a challenge.

During sophomore year, I took my first AP class: AP world history. I knew absolutely nothing about Mesopotamia or the Mongols, but I persevered along with the rest of my classmates. It was a great introduction to the AP phenomenon.

The classes are really quite enjoyable. I like the small class sizes and the bond that develops between the teacher and students.

The exams are a different story. They are four long hours of multiple-choice questions and a multitude of essays, each of which is more daunting than the last. Still, the classes are 100 percent worth the torturous four hours.

My fellow classmates and my teachers make AP an enjoyable experience. Knowing that we are all going through the same struggle is comforting.

Penelope Grimaldi, a junior at Selah High School, described her experience with AP this way: “AP classes are not for the faint of heart. They require hard work and dedication. AP classes give me the learning challenge I search for in high school, while still allowing me to experience the joy of learning in a classroom of like-minded people taught by an exceptional teacher.”

If you are a high school student, please consider enrolling in an AP class because you will find a community of fellow students that will shape your high school experience and prepare you for wherever you go next.

Anna Ergeson is a junior at Selah High School.