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On the rise: Milford Mill students earning more AP Scholar awards



In 2013, Milford Mill Academy, well known for the quality of its sports and music programs, had just two Advanced Placement (AP) Scholars. But, in 2014, that number rose to seven. And, in 2015, it became five. And, now, it’s reached 16, including seven students who earned 5’s – the highest score – on one or more AP exams.

So what made the difference?


According to Adrian Charley, who became an assistant principal at the school in 2011, one factor was the school’s "Smart Is the New Cool" campaign. Initiated by Charley, the campaign aimed to get students more interested and involved in their education. More than a year later, the campaign’s message can be found throughout the school – from posters on the walls to T-shirts on the students.

"We wanted to celebrate the scholars in our school as much as we celebrate the athletes and the singers," Charley said.

But the campaign includes much more than a slogan.

Teachers and school counselors also have been encouraging students to take higher-level coursework. At the beginning of each school year, a ceremony recognizes students who are about to take AP classes. Students holding candles – large candles if they have been in AP courses before and smaller candles if they’re enrolled in some for the first time – take a pledge to do their best. Parents also participate in the ceremony to support their children, and past scholars return to share their tips for success.

And the encouragement continues throughout the school year. Halftime pep rallies celebrate students’ academic achievements, and pep talks inspire further progress. Signage throughout the school also highlights the school’s academic stars. An AP bootcamp was held in partnership with Towson University.

"Additionally, we started an AP pipeline last year," Charley said. "Grade 9 students have the opportunity to take AP Human Geography so that they are exposed to that type of rigorous coursework. As they advance to the next grade level, they continue to take AP courses and to improve their skills. Many of our AP students have taken and passed three or more AP classes by the time they graduate."

Al-amin Johnson, an AP psychology teacher at Milford Mill, had the idea to create a social group for AP students that would help to foster a greater sense of community among the school’s AP students. He was the sponsor for a male social group, while Monica Lewis, an AVID teacher, also sponsored a girl’s AP group. This year, Johnson will be the sponsor for the entire group of male and female AP students.

"Johnson thought that, rather than students working in isolation," Charley said, "we should bring them together like a team and create bonding experiences – like field trips and bowling – to nurture friendships and help students connect with other students with like interests."

And Johnson’s idea seems to have worked: Of the 16 Milford Mill students recognized as AP Scholars this year, 15 of them participated in the campaign.

"Since ninth grade, they have been hearing about AP and the benefits of taking rigorous courses," Charley said. "This list shows that they were definitely listening to the message."

A list of all of Milford Mill’s AP Scholars, including the awards they earned and the qualifications for each, is below:

AP Scholar with Distinction
Awarded to students who received an average score of 3.5 or higher on all AP exams taken and earned scores of 3 or higher on five or more exams
Darren Hislop

AP Scholars with Honor
Awarded to students who received an average score of 3.25 or higher on all AP exams taken and earned scores of 3 or higher on four or more exams
Christopher Dunstan
Tekiah Hanks
Sharif Uzzell

AP Scholars
Awarded to students who received an average score of 3 or higher on three or more exams
Oluwaseun Adeuyan
Oluwasolape Afolabi
Precious Azike
Angel Belleveau-Butle
Olouwakemi Biaou
Triston Dabney
Jaelyn Edwards
Andrea Galaviz Garcia
Emanuel Jones
Kala McCaskill
Rasheed Saka
Tyler Waugh

"This entire process and the Smart is the New Cool movement has been about equity and access for all students, giving students the chance to move to new academic heights," Charley said. "While some of them were worried about the difficulty of the course and whether or not they would be successful, they have come to realize that the journey is just as important as the destination.

"They are better students for having taken AP classes."

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Verletta White
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