Max Stahl, comment editor
Next year, juniors and seniors at Beverly will for the first time have the opportunity to take AP Psychology. The course will count as an elective, and completion of two semesters of biology will be required for enrollment.
AP Psychology will also be one of several courses seniors can take as part of the Medical Science Academy (MSA), a three-year program at Beverly which prepares students for future studies in medicine through classes taught on campus and hands-on training at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.
The idea to bring AP Psychology to Beverly originated in science teacher Colleen Lynch’s 10th-grade Introduction to Medical Science class and her 11th-grade biotechnology class, both part of the MSA. Students voted on whether they would prefer AP Psychology or forensics and elected the former.
“I think AP Psychology is going to be a fascinating extension of the MSA courses thus far. I know that a lot of us are very interested in going into the psychology field, so this should provide us with ample opportunities to explore the career and learn about its various aspects,” junior and MSA student David Younessi said.
The Beverly Hills Board of Education, the University of California system and the College Board have all approved AP Psychology for Beverly. In the steps leading up to approval, Lynch, social studies teacher Roel Hinojosa, Head Counselor Diane Hale, Assistant Principal Amy Golden and Beverly Hills Unified School District Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jennifer Tedford were instrumental in organizing and developing the course.
“Ms. Lynch and Dr. Tedford and I just started having informal conversations, and we realized that the stars were aligned; there was personnel, there was [room in] the budget,” Hinojosa said. “It’s like juggling balls, and everything has to be in place in order to go through with it, and everything just lined up perfectly, so we took advantage of it.
In addition to readings, lectures and case studies, AP Psychology will focus heavily on experimentation. However, although the class will be housed in the MSA, it will be taught primarily from a social sciences perspective.
“There’s a lot of science in it, but you don’t have to be a scientist to actually study it. Certainly I’m not a scientist myself,” Hinojosa said. “But it takes a general approach to science, so you do study things like brain activity and the chemical interaction between drugs and our bodies and how that affects our psychology. So there is some biology and some chemistry, and so we’ll work on experiments on that, but also more traditionally psychological experiments that deal with subjects of a more psychological nature.”
Hinojosa, who intends to teach the class, is excited to offer students a unique educational experience that they can relate to.
“I’m looking forward to it, because it’s a class that offers students the ability to examine themselves, to use themselves,” he said. “A lot of the topics are about human development, and there are several chapters on adolescence and all of the challenges that adolescents have to go through — in their families and with their peers and in school — so students will I’m sure be able to recognize some of their own challenges going on in their personal lives being outlined in the pages of the textbook that they’re reading.”
AP Psychology can also apply in other academic endeavors.
“A lot of the chapters deal with how we learn; [students] might be able to examine how they’re learning not only in the psychology class, but in other classes as well,” Hinojosa said.
Current sophomores and juniors can request enrollment in AP Psychology in May when they receive their tentative schedules and meet with their counselors to discuss plans for next year.