Young Observer: Early June Edition

While most people celebrated the merry month of May (Cinco de Mayo and Mothers’ Day), many high school students, including me, were busy preparing and taking AP exams. AP stands for Advanced Placement.

AP was created by the College Board which offers college-level courses and assessment to high school students. Some universities and colleges grant credits to those who meet the required test scores. Depending on the number of AP courses a student takes, he or she can skip an entire freshman year and go straight to sophomore year in college. Not all universities and colleges give credits but students who take AP courses have higher chances of getting admitted to their colleges and universities of choice.

AP courses are available to freshmen, but I signed up for my first AP course in my sophomore year. I have chosen Computer Science as my pathway, so I took AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP) and had my AP test last month. I joined 960 of my fellow schoolmates who had to miss classes to take the annual three to four hour exam at the school gym or at the Fullerton Community Center. I may have been confident about the test, but the stress of working with only one pencil was an unnecessary trouble I could have avoided. I should bring more pencils next time.

If a student brings a bag, this will further delay the exit because the bag gets deposited in a holding area, so it is better to just put personal stuff in a pocket. I was quite nervous before the test, but the one-hour delay turned my jitters into boredom and impatience. I learned that delays are not unusual during AP tests. We are not allowed to have anything with us except a pencil and an ID so my mom had no idea she had to wait for another hour when she picked me up.

AP tests are typically Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) but some may require essays or Free-Response Questions (FRQs).

For AP CSP, my onsite test was all MCQs but for the coding portion, I was given 12 hours over a two-week period to complete a performance task in class. Passing score is 3 (out of 5), but an AP student needs to get a score of 4 or 5 to be given college credit. Test results are expected to be released in July. Those who get a score lower than 4 or 5 may retake the test the following year. Some choose to study on their own instead of taking AP classes then take the AP test because some AP courses allow this arrangement.

I wondered what my friends think of Advanced Placement, so I asked five of them to share their experiences. They all said they are taking AP because it puts them in good standing for college application, a key indicator that they are seriously planning for success. They hope to save their college money by participating in the AP program while mentally and academically preparing for the rigor that college brings. However, three of my friends confessed that on top of these reasons, their parents actually want them to take AP. Only one of my five friends plans to take full AP in their junior and senior year. This means that the rest will only pick the AP courses that match their interests.

My decision to take AP was inspired by my chosen career pathway and my competitive spirit. However, for my junior and senior years, I will be taking the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which is different from AP. Some IB courses like Biology or English will be good preparation for the AP tests so I plan to take both the IB and AP tests for these courses. It is important to note though that these tests cost as much as $95 per test so fees can easily skyrocket if a student takes as many as six tests in a year. If a student is on a reduced or free lunch program, he or she may take the AP test for free or pay as little as $5. It has been a while since I took the three to four-hour entrance test in my school. Test-taking is not my forte but going through this experience has been eye-opening for me as it has provided a preview of my academic life beyond high school. Preparing well for these exams puts me on track to attend a university that will help me achieve my dream career.

May 30 is a very special day this year in the United States. Contrary to what some people may think, it is not just a day off school or a break from work. Memorial Day, which is observed each year on the last Monday of May, is one of the most patriotic holidays of the year. On this day, we take the time to remember and honor the bravery and courage of the millions of American soldiers who died while fighting for our country. There have been many wars over the course of the country’s 246-year history, and they have resulted in many casualties in our military. Here is a brief history of the holiday, as well as some things you could do to honor our fallen soldiers.

The roots of Memorial Day go all the way back to the Civil War era, which occurred in the 1860s. As the deadliest war in U.S. history, the Civil War claimed between 620,000 and 750,000 lives and left many families in a state of mourning before it officially came to an end in 1865. In fact, there were so many deaths during this war that the first national cemeteries were built just to give the bodies a pleasant resting place. So, just about a year after the war’s conclusion, many Americans across the country decided to hold ceremonies in their cities or towns as a tribute to those who had fallen in the Civil War. Residents would decorate gravestones of the fallen with beautiful flowers and sing prayers to honor them.

This springtime event, which was a huge hit across America, was given the name Decoration Day in 1868 by General John A. Logan. Throughout the rest of the 19th century and heading into the 20th, Decoration Day was observed by all Northern U.S. states as a state holiday. It eventually adopted the name Memorial Day because the entire holiday is a memorial to those who died in American wars.

Nowadays, people honor Memorial Day in many different ways. Large parades are held in major cities across the U.S. such as New York and Washington D.C. Local celebrations like Fullerton’s Memorial Day Ceremony held at Loma Vista Memorial Park, 701 E. Bastanchury Rd at 10am, are held with the help of local troops like Troy High School’s JROTC, Air Force USA and women in the military.

Many other people take the time to pay a visit to our country’s fallen troops in cemeteries and graveyards. Some wear a red poppy when visiting these sites as a symbol of respect and gratitude to these soldiers.

The rise in the cost of living with steep gas prices and expensive grocery bills have aroused concerns in households. Luckily, there is a way to reduce spending and it is as easy as unplugging appliances when they are not in use. By doing this daily, you have eliminated the hidden enemy.

Phantom energy, also known as ghost energy, is power consumed by appliances that are off but plugged into an outlet. This energy keeps clocks on microwaves, ovens, and stoves on while not in use. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies around the world, it is estimated that 10% of a monthly electric bill is because of phantom energy. Each year, computers eat 2% of one’s electricity, which might seem minute until one realizes that two main electricity consumers, cooling and heating, take 18%. With a simple movement of unplugging a device charger, surge protectors, and toasters, one can save $30 each month or more than $360 dollars a year.

How many appliances can you unplug in your kitchen and living room alone?

The start of June means that summer break is here. My last day of school is Friday, June 3 and at 1pm, my summer break will officially start. These two months give me the opportunity to go swimming, go on long bike rides, or stay home and read. However, there are a variety of other engaging summer activities that Fullerton School District (FSD) offers its students. I am looking forward to a couple of these.

Personally, I have experience with three of the FSD summer camps: the Extended Play, the district musical (pre pandemic), and the FSD Speech and Debate Summer Camp. The Extended Play is a three-week-program held from June 8 to 29 consisting of ELA and math programs for grades K through 7. Extended Play was a flexible activity for me, and I recommend this type of program to any individual who wants to practice academics at their own pace, independently, in an entertaining way.

The FSD Speech and Debate Summer Camp, on the other hand, was such a great experience. Last year, I attended this camp on Zoom and throughout my experience every coach and advisor offered me an opportunity to improve my speaking, specifically enunciation, skills. This year, the speech and debate camp will be a two week in-person workshop. Participants will get to improve their presentation skills and gain confidence in speaking in front of crowds.

To find Fullerton School District 2022 summer program options like Extended Play, All the Arts Camp, Gate Academy, The Lab, and FSD Speech and Debate Summer Camp visit: