Howell High School’s National Honor Society has once again has continued to provide their tutoring services. Tutoring is held in the library at the 10-12 building and the Freshman Campus every Tuesday and Thursday after school, as well as every Wednesday at seven in the morning.
The students who are tutoring are highly qualified. The NHS students must maintain a 3.5 G.P.A. all year long to be a part of NHS.
Senior Natalie Stone is a member of NHS and has tutored before. She helped a student with her math and she felt that it was a beneficial session. “If you are struggling in any class or would just like a little extra help, I recommend coming to the library and checking it out,” says Stone.
Recently, Howell High School has been placed on the honor roll for their excellent Advanced Placement classes. They are one of 539 school districts across the United States and Canada being recognized by College Board for the third annual AP District Honor Roll. The state with the largest number of AP Honor Roll districts was Massachusetts with 46 districts, while Michigan was just shortly behind in second place with 39 districts.
“I am very proud of our students and teachers for their hard work within our AP program,” Mr. Jason Schrock says, HHS principal.
This year, Howell School District has done two things simultaneously. One, increasing their access to AP course work, and secondly, increasing the percentage of students earning scores of three or higher on AP exams. Achieving both of these tasks is what everyone shoots for. It indicates that the school district is identifying bright, motivated students who will benefit the most from such a hard course. Countries all over the United States accept AP credits which in turn can save students and their families thousands of dollars.
“The Honor we received from College Board is important because it shows that we are not only providing more opportunities for students to take the rigorous coursework involved with an AP course, but our teachers are working hard to prepare them for success at a greater rate than ever,” Mr. Schrock says.
For students, taking AP classes are highly beneficial. It gives students the opportunity to surround themselves with students who are more motivated. On their high school transcripts, colleges will look and notice that they are a hard worker and they are willing to challenge themselves academically.
Last year’s graduate, Nick Barnowski, who attends Michigan State University as a journalism major, has nothing but good to say about AP classes.
“Now that I’m in college, the biggest way AP classes helped me was the college credit you receive. If you do well on the AP exams, you could potentially enter college with 10 or more credits, or in my case 14. A lot of kids I know are already considered sophomores despite only being in college for one semester due to the amount of AP credits they earned. Along with that, the workload of AP classes really helped me with time management and studying in my first semester,” Barnowski says.
With the names and honor of AP classes comes hard work. The exams are college level so student will have to work much harder than in their normal high school classes. Students will have to read more, study more, and pay attention more. There is definitely added stress for students in these classes, but with all of that added onto their plate there is a huge benefit. AP classes at HHS have a ten percent multiplier added to their grade.
“I absolutely would recommend taking them. There were nights where I definitely questioned why I decided to take some of the classes, but after a full [college] semester under my belt I am glad I chose to take them. All the hard work put into the classes can prove itself later on in school,” Barnowski says.
Hundreds of thousands of high school students enroll in AP classes every year, with hopes of brightening their transcripts and to earn college credit. In an article for the Atlantic, former college professor and high school teacher, John Tierney, argues that AP courses in fact do not deliver their promised benefits. Tierney states that the courses are nothing like real college classes, and that the popularity has brought down their quality. But on the contrary, HHS and many people across the United States seems to disagree.
“Howell has never been recognized in this capacity for AP achievement, and it is wonderful to earn the honor. Our teachers have discussed expanding our AP curriculum as well, and I am eager to assist in this endeavor,” Mr. Schrock says.
If there was something a student could do in order to increase intelligence, academic performance, calmness, and improve multiple other traits, shouldn’t it be done? Well, it can be done. Studies are now showing countless positive effects on students who supplement their studies with alternatives such as meditation and aerobic exercise.
According to the Medical College of Georgia, students who meditated for 15 minutes, twice a day, significantly reduced their blood pressure over a four month period, compared to students who did not participate in meditation. Alongside this data, prestigious schools such as Harvard, Stanford, and UCLA, have shown that transcendental meditation actually eases stress, and improves both physical and mental behavior.
Teachers at Howell High School have also used these techniques to show students the positive effects it has.
“I like to incorporate meditation in my classes because of the significant role it plays throughout the world,” says Howell High School teacher and Lansing Community College Adjunct Professor Jay McDowell. “Even though I stress no one particular religion when teaching it, varying forms of meditation are found in countless religions.”
Meditation by itself is a very broad term. Some incorporate it within prayers, while others may use it to find internal peace. No matter how it is used, the end result is a much more relaxed state of mind that helps one focus throughout the day.
In the particular case of the studies being done, transcendental meditation is the form of meditation being used. Transcendental meditation consists of silently repeating a mantra, or phrase, for fifteen to twenty minutes. This technique was created by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi many years ago and has been found scattered throughout classrooms since.
“Transcendental meditation is a simple mental technique that can have profound physiological effects,” says Gary Kaplan, neurologist at New York University School of Medicine. “It produces a state of restful alertness that provides the body with deep, rejuvenating rest and allows the mind to reach higher levels of creativity, clarity and intelligence.”
These techniques were even found to work in inner-city schools around the nation for decreasing levels of aggressive crimes committed. Studies show that meditating daily significantly decreased aggressiveness in inner-city children.
Although this in itself proves to be an amazing find, transcendental meditation is not the only way to improve schooling throughout the nation. A teacher at Howell High School is currently on his way to proving just that.
“In order improve information absorption in the brain, you need to prep it first,” says teacher Eric Schrock. “And after exercising, your brain is fully prepped.” Schrock is currently conducting experiments with his students on the effect of aerobic exercise, such as pedaling or walking on a treadmill, on brain function. Studies show that exercising increases levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical, that when combined with nerve impulses and knowledge, creates a prime moment for knowledge absorption.
“We have found when the heart rate is raised between 140-165 beats per minute, the brain is fully prepped and is at its full potential to learn,” Schrock said. “Directly after, the students read and we have found they absorb much more information.”
In order to gauge information absorption, students take the Scholastic Reading Inventory exam, which tests the students’ level of reading. Over time, students in the experiment showed improved results from when they initially took the exam. Some schools around the nation have even found that students who exercised before taking a test doubled their test scores.
Whether it is meditating during class, or hitting the gym before school, these alternatives have significant effects on countless students. Some of these studies have been around for years, but nothing has been done on a large enough scale to show serious change in U.S. schools. Maybe one day techniques such as these will be the game changer for American public schooling.
The number 36 has always been a rare, untouchable figure for the ACT. Few students have been honored to reach the mark of a perfect score. Howell High School is pleased to announce such a student, Claire Kwan, as the only junior who received a 36 composite score on the 2011 ACT.
“I was surprised and happy about it [ACT score],” says Kwan. “Everybody kind of made a big deal about it.”
Ms. Deb Solowczuk, ACT Coordinator and HHS Freshman Campus counselor, states that Kwan’s score of 36 is indeed a big deal. It’s more common for some students to receive a 36 in a certain area of the ACT, such as English or Science, but not for the total score.
“It’s huge. Usually the 36 composite scores will open up a lot of doors for colleges,” Ms. Solowczuk says.
Kwan knew the significance of the ACT, so she prepared for the exam well before March 1, the starting day of all HHS ACT testing. And since the ACT was a three day process, she made sure to study hard.
“I took some practice tests and we did some stuff in English [class],” she says. “I didn’t take the whole thing, though. I just did a couple sections.”
Kwan took the whole version of the ACT before it was required by the state of Michigan. Kwan completed the ACT in Fowlerville during the month of February, which led to her initial score of 36. When it came time for all juniors in Howell High School to take the ACT, Kwan’s total composite number fell to a 35. Her lesser mark was still highly notable, and there were no worries on it affecting her image negatively because her top score of 36 will be the official grade recorded for the ACT.
Kwan grew up as an intelligent child from the start. Originally born in Taiwan, Kwan moved to the United States at age two and left the state of California at the end of fifth grade. By the time she entered sixth grade, Kwan was settled in the state of Michigan and her student career began to excel.
“I’ve always gotten A’s mostly,” she admits shyly.
The achievements continue to multiply now that Kwan is in high school. Besides the academic alliances with Quiz Bowl and Student Council, Kwan takes part in HHS track, HHS girls swim team, and Women’s Chorale. She is also very musical with the piano.
“I started playing [piano] when I was five,” Kwan says. However, her vocal days are soon coming to an end. “This is my first and last year in choir.
Besides pursuing extracurricular activities, she has enrolled in many advanced classes, including AP Physics B, AP Calculus, AP Government, and Advanced American Literature. One of the most challenging classes Kwan currently attends is AP Physics, taught by Mr. Paul Webster.
“AP Physics B is one of the toughest classes offered at Howell High School,” says Mr. Webster. “It covers approximately a year and a half of second or third year college Physics. Claire is doing very well in the class.”
Of course, AP Physics B will be a critical component in Kwan’s future education. Since AP Physics B deals with the science of energy, motion, and other mechanical principals, the class will be especially beneficial to her future possibilities in healthcare or mechanics.
“I like math and science. I’m not sure yet, but I think I either want to go into some type of engineering or into the medical field.”
Kwan’s family members are also a brainy bunch. She has two younger sisters: one in eighth grade and the youngest in third grade, along with two older step-brothers. Her family’s Asian culture still remains intact despite moving to the United States, since they often speak Chinese Mandarin around the house. Blended in with the other clever relatives, Kwan remains to think indifferently about her family’s reaction to her newfound accomplishment.
“I guess they were happy about it,” she shrugs.
Kwan may seem nonchalant sometimes, but she’s surely grateful for the opportunities her ACT score has provided. With basically free reign to attend any college, Kwan has so far selected four schools that have gained her interest: University of Michigan, Northwestern Michigan, Stanford University, and University of California, Los Angeles.
“I’m hoping to get scholarships but I haven’t done any applications, so I don’t know yet,” she says.
Mr. Webster can confirm her potentially victorious future without question.
“I think Claire will be successful in whatever she decides to pursue,” he says. “She works hard and is extremely bright.”