The Life Of Juniors


Juniors Maizie Daye and Kate Farhart starting finals' studying during the S4 study hall.

Junior year consists of many difficult choices. Should students take advanced placement (AP) classes? How much should they study for the SAT and ACT? Which college should they go to? The effects of the questions show during the final weeks of the first semester in the 2018-19 school year of Air Academy High School as herds of juniors are stressing for finals.

The finals for this semester take place between Tuesday, December 17th and Friday, the 21st, with the Monday of that week being a regular Blue day. Because finals end before noon, AAHS students can stay after their finals and study in their Kadet Time rooms until the regular release time. Alternatively, they can get called out by their parents and leave early. Many juniors with licenses will choose to leave the campus after their tests and study on their own time.

Alongside preparation for finals, some juniors are already going to SAT/ACT tutoring sessions and using study  textbooks and practice tests to prepare for standardized testing. These tests take place for the Academy District 20 schools in the midst of May, though many students decide to take the tests a few times prior to the official date as practice.

According to statistics from, the average SAT score amongst 11th and 12th graders in 2017 was 1083 out of 1600. In order to help students succeed on the test, AAHS provides tools such as practice SAT exams and seminars where study books are offered to all grades.

There are also college visits in the AAHS student services center in which students can sign up to meet with their colleges of interest through the website Naviance. Juniors taking part in these meetings can discuss things such as which classes are required to get into that school, or they can even ask about the minimum SAT score for that specific college.

The SAT and ACT consist of a varied range of material taught throughout high school. To help students learn higher level material and participate in more advanced classes, AAHS provides a variety of AP courses; most of which are available to students after sophomore year.

“AP art history is the easiest AP class and it is very fun,” said language arts teacher Cyndy Morgan.

However, the majority of AAHS’s AP classes are much more difficult than the regular curriculum, as they are treated as college courses with higher expectations. With the choice of taking these challenging classes, students must consider just how much they can handle. AAHS counselor Erica Riggs notes that the biggest tool for managing junior year is time management.

An AP course at AAHS famous for its level of difficulty is AP U.S history (APUSH). This class is taught by history teacher, baseball and golf coach, Ronald Gorr, who identifies his class as not impossible but a challenge for those without time management and a balanced schedule.

“APUSH is a lot of material but it can be done when balanced, it is not that hard to read a textbook,” stated Gorr.

Juniors engaging in higher level honors or AP classes have had to make some sacrifices to manage time for school work.

“I’ve given up a lot more social time [and spent] less time going to the gym and playing volleyball,” said junior Aria Schleiker. Classes such as APUSH regularly assign at least an hour’s worth of homework. Students who engage in more than one AP class spend a good portion of every evening doing homework.

Not every 11th grader participates in the courses of AP classes, but that does not necessarily mean that their junior year is easy. Junior year is truly the time that colleges look at the most, and for some students, it is easier to be successful in non-AP and non-honors classes in order to balance it all out.

Regular junior language arts teacher Joanne Cassano points out that many students switch into her regular English class from honors or AP in order to take control of their schedule and “use the tools they can handle learning.”

“School itself is not necessarily stressful, but finishing up while still working and thinking about colleges truly is,” said junior Jenaye Smitch, who balanced her schedule by taking regular classes in order to maintain her focus on other matters that are crucial for the future.

Now, nearing the end of the first semester of their 11th year, many juniors have caught on to the routines of their classes and are starting to prepare for the year’s first week of finals. Despite all the negative air that surrounds the idea of junior year, many students have grown fond and grateful for the opportunities they have been presented with.

“Even though there is a lot of work to do it, has taught me how to deal with the upcoming challenges of college, along with improving my time management skills overall,” said junior Kelton Hooker, who is taking two AP classes this year.

The juniors at AAHS make up a hard-working class, and no matter what courses they are taking and how much pressure they might be feeling, they will pull through it. If they head into this semester’s finals with confidence, they can expect superior results.