BY STACEY PASTERNAK
More likely than not, you’ve heard of AP classes. CCHS students take many of these college-level classes each and every year. But one of these AP classes is not like the others. AP art, taught by Ms. Katherine Sharp, is a rare AP class, taken only by the most talented of student painters, draftsmen, and photographers. Ms. Sharp, who started teaching here in 1987, but did not take up the responsibilities of being the AP art teacher until five years ago, was apprehensive at first about the teaching opportunity. Sharp was considered for the position when the former AP art teacher, Ms. Harmon, retired.
“When they asked me to do it, I was so upset. It was such a huge undertaking, first of all I had to get certified, and I was also concerned that these students were depending on me to get a passing score or higher,” Sharp said. “Starting anything new can be off-putting. But Ms. Rocco convinced me that I could do it and so I believed her.”
One may think that this class seems easy and does not require hard work. However, according to Sharp, this is not so.
“We are informed as to how the AP readers are going to evaluate the student artwork, so it’s almost like getting an answer key to a test and so we gear our students toward making sure that they are making the mark in those areas,” Sharp said.
Students who take the responsibility of an AP art class must be self-motivated, highly disciplined, skilled, and creative students. It is no secret that those involved in the AP art curriculum must work hard to meet the exam criteria expected of them all.
“I’m very confident. All my kids pass, many with high scores of 5’s and 4’s, and the only student who wouldn’t pass would be one whose skills aren’t of the caliber or they’re not disciplined enough to put the extra time in,” Sharp said. “You can’t just come here every day for 50 minutes and pop out great art. So, these kids are coming in, taking their portfolios home with them and working at home.”
When Sharp found out about the new schedule change this year, she started to think about retiring because she, like so many other AP teachers here at CCHS, couldn’t fathom how shortening this class would work to their advantage. But nonetheless, she decided to try it out. Now, with the schedule in full force, Sharp and the students have had to re-structure the class as a whole in order to make it work as efficiently as possible.
“When we were on the block schedule, AP was all year long because we were able to get a year in a semester. And in each semester, we produced twelve amazing pieces. Now that we are on the 7 period, the whole year we can only get twelve pieces,” Sharp said. “So, the kids are actually taking two years of this.”
One such student is junior Haley Gomez, who has been in AP art since the beginning of her sophomore year.
“I took AP drawing last year, I’m currently in portfolio honors, and will be in AP 2D art next year. I’ve been in it for two years,” Gomez said.
Being the youngest in the class last year was both an honor and surprise for Gomez, who has had a passion for art since her 7th grade year.
“Last year, I was told by Ms Sharp that my work was at the level it needed to be to switch to AP,” Gomez said.
Gomez has a special place in her heart for the teacher who saw a talent in her that stood out from those of her peers.
“I love having Ms. Sharp as the AP art teacher. She is the only teacher I believe could teach this class,” Gomez said. “She helps us think outside the box and learn the styles of art. I wouldn’t have the level of artistic ability I do without her. She instills in us the meaning and effort needed to put into our work.”
Gomez, too, agrees that the new 7-period schedule has been hard on her and the other AP art students. Next year, Gomez will take AP art to finish up the other 12 pieces of her concentration.
“The time span this year on top of all the other classes makes it difficult to finish all 24 pieces for the AP exam this year,” Gomez said. “I will be finishing the first 12 this year and finish the other 12 for my concentration next year. I was capable of finishing all 24 pieces the previous year, but that was when we had block scheduling with the 90 minute classes.”
“Breadths” will also be worked on by the AP photography students, another group in Sharp’s portfolio honors class.
“For the AP test, I have to take 24 pictures,” senior and AP photography student Jacqueline Andreoni said. “There is a concentration, which is a set theme of 12 pictures, and the other 12 are called breadth. They are
what the teacher assigns us, so it shows the range of what we can do.”
Andreoni, who is taking advanced portfolio right now but has taken photos 1, 2 and 3 throughout her high school career, realized her passion for art in 7th grade when she got her first camera and played around with all of its features.
“AP photography is special to me because I like creating images that are satisfying to me, personally,” Andreoni said. “I’m really hard on myself, so being able to produce something that I like is nice.”
Along with learning the techniques needed to pass the AP test, Andreoni learned things about photography that will help her throughout the rest of her life.
“I learned how to really be careful with creating pictures and the whole thought process. You can’t simply snap a picture. You really have to think about it,” Andreoni said.
Overall, AP art is a class not to be taken lightly. A lot of time, energy, technique, and a true passion for art is needed to excel.