The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

North High’s Top 3 Obscure Classes

North High offers more than 180 courses. These courses range from intense Advanced Placement (AP) science classes to more hands-on classes such as Bake Shop. As a result, many courses are overlooked by students who otherwise might have enjoyed the curriculum offered. Here’s a look into some obscure advanced classes that one might be interested in taking!

1. AP Art History

A picture of the Abbey Church of Saint Denis which is a piece of architecture part of the gothic subunit of the medieval unit that students are currently studying (Credit: Society of Architectural Historians).
A picture of the Abbey Church of Saint Denis which is a piece of architecture part of the gothic subunit of the medieval unit that students are currently studying (Credit: Society of Architectural Historians).

AP Art History is a college-level course in art history that is offered to sophomores, juniors and seniors. The class is a mostly discussion-based learning environment in which students are expected to engage in deep critical analyses of art ranging from the ancient to the present world. In December, the class takes a trip to the Museum of Modern Art to connect what they have been learning to real life. The students survey paintings, sculptures and architecture with the goal of understanding the visual arts as universal human expression. The class will culminate with the taking of the AP Art History exam in May. Current AP Art History students offer insight into the misconceptions and specifics of what the class entails.

Senior Sue Zhang said a popular misconception about AP Art History is “that it’s easy. It’s not. As a history class, there’s actually extensive background research, memorization, and reading required. The averages for the first test were a 70 in one class and a 62 in the other.”

Zhang adds “Although the best part is definitely being able to see shifting cultural values reflected in the art, the worst part [of AP Art History] is the memorization since it’s hard to keep track.”

AP Art History is not restricted to stereotypical paintings or sculptures that one immediately associates with the word “art.” AP Art History opens students’ eyes to an entirely new world in which students should thoroughly consider all aspects the class has to offer before signing up for the course. 

2. AP European History

AP European History is a college-level course in European history. Infamous for its large workload and demanding curriculum, students tend to avoid this class. However, students currently in the class disagree with these misconceptions.

Senior Cecilia Albin said, “It’s not hard, it’s just a lot of work. It’s most similar to AP US History and AP World History.”

A drawn picture representing how labor is becoming more mechanized during the Industrial Revolution, the unit current AP European History students are studying (Credit: Albert.io).
A drawn picture representing how labor is becoming more mechanized during the Industrial Revolution, the unit current AP European History students are studying (Credit: Albert.io).

AP European History is designed for students who read and write at a level of freshmen attending selective universities, who work well independently, who have fully developed study skills and who enjoy intellectual discussions in the pursuit of knowledge. The curriculum focuses on the following themes: political, intellectual, cultural, social and economic patterns in the study of seven countries over a span of five hundred years. The course is aimed to help students develop an appreciation for the art, literature and philosophical contributions to Western heritage. Throughout the year, students participate in research seminars in economics, and learn about politics and the government through independent study, community service or research projects. The class will culminate with the taking of the AP European History Exam in May. Current AP European History students offer insight into their favorite and least favorite parts of the class.

Albin adds, “ [My favorite part of AP European History is] the content. It’s interesting. [However,] it’s a lot of work and you need to be very self-motivated to succeed.”

AP European History is a rewarding class if one is passionate about learning and putting in the effort. Students currently in the class chose to take the course despite knowing the immense workload that would be required of them. Therefore, prospective students must thoroughly consider what it is that pushes them to want to learn about history beyond the United States before taking this class.

3. Advanced Topics in Mathematics

Advanced Topics in Mathematics is a half-year elective in math, with the option of taking the course during two semesters. As a class most people do not know about, this year’s class boasts a total of six students. Although all students are seniors, each student’s prerequisites differ as the topics introduced are independent of the precalculus and calculus curriculums and do not require prior knowledge from those courses. This is a common misconception among students.

Senior Melvin Thu said, “[Advanced Topics] isn’t harder than [AP Calculus BC]. Just different math.”

The course is known to be designed for advanced students who wish to examine some non-traditional high school math topics including linear algebra, number theory, mathematical induction, number systems, non-Euclidean geometry, graph theory and combinatorics. In reality, students are able to dictate and choose what they learn. 

Thu adds, “[The best part is that] with a small class and no concrete curriculum, we get to demand what we learn.”

However, this freedom also comes with responsibility. Without a set learning pace, the grading system is more unforgiving.

Senior Adrian Shiu said, “There’s only one test a quarter so if you do bad on the test it’s all over.”

Advanced Topics in Mathematics is for all math-loving students who seek to explore their passion beyond what is required of them. With a small class size, students are able to enjoy an intimate learning environment, form a community, and learn math on a level they have never experienced before.

Graph theory, a unit Advanced Topics students have chosen to learn. (Credit: Medium).
Graph theory, a unit that current Advanced Topics students have chosen to learn (Credit: Medium).
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About the Contributor
Lillian Wu, Associate Editor
Lillian Wu is one of Guide Post’s associate editors. She enjoys writing, playing Go, looking at brain teasers, and is an officer for the Pre-Med Club. She is also part of the swim, winter track, and spring track teams. In addition to writing for Guide Post, Lillian enjoys volunteering in her free time and learning new things. Whether at school or home, you can find her daydreaming and thinking about life.

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