GIPS makes national honor roll for student success in AP classes

Grand Island Public Schools has been named to the National AP Honor Roll (NTV News)

Grand Island Public Schools makes the honor roll, as the district has been recognized for challenging kids to do college level work, even kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Kids in Beth Butters’ class were studying the madness of Hamlet, when soon something was rotten not in Denmark, but the hallway.

“I have some visitors,” Principal Jeff Gilberton announced, as an entourage interrupted class.

Superintendent Tawana Grover announced Grand Island Public Schools is one of 373 districts named to the national AP Honor Roll by the non-profit College Board.

“In order to make the honor roll, you have to increase the number of students that are enrolled om advanced placement classes as well as increase the scores,” Dr. Grover said.

The college board finds many minority students don’t take AP courses, but Grand Island is bucking that trend.

“Increasing access and opportunity to rigorous coursework is the goal here that we are celebrating,” Grover said.

Senior Grant Cole will graduate with 8 AP courses, which can translate to college credit.

“I've taken calculus, government, economics just to name a few,” he rattled off.

He says his teachers have challenged him.

“There's definitely a difference in academic rigor between those and regular classes and it's really beneficial, especially preparing for college,” Cole said.

Grand Island offers 18 AP classes, and is looking at more.

It’s part of their broader plan to make academics more demanding, while also getting more kids on track for college.

Grover said, “Exposing students to high rigor early on is so key, so when they make it to the high school, they can have the confidence as well as knowledge and skills to be able to succeed in the AP course.”

The superintendent says some kids may be intimidated, but they don’t want them to be.

They hope to challenge kids long before they’re learning Shakespeare.

“What you will see with our strategic plan, we have been very intentional about the experiences our students have from Pre-K all the way through the 12th grade,” Grover said.

Grand Island joins Ralston and Elkhorn as the only Nebraska schools on this honor roll.

A look at demographics shows GIPS is more diverse than those districts, so educators think this is a sign they’re doing the right thing.

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