WHITTIER – As Whittier Union schools prepare students to take their Advanced Placement exams for the first time ever from home and online – a challenging feat for any student – Pioneer High School teachers and staff showed their support by holding a drive-thru pep rally on May 6.

While observing social distancing and wearing protective masks, Pioneer administrators and AP teachers banded together to provide 150 students who are poised to take their AP exams, which begin Monday and continue through May 22, with “survival kits” containing supplies and snacks.

“This may not be what our students have been preparing for all year long, but through it all, they have shown strength, perseverance and aptitude in going forward with this virtual exam,” Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction Annette Ledesma said. “We want them to know that we are here to support them and motivate them to continue forging ahead.”

The AP exams provide students the opportunity to earn college credit and are usually administered in person, taking several hours to complete. In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, they were converted to timed, 45-minute online exams.

District curriculum coordinators have been working collaboratively to provide daily updates to students and AP teachers via email, video messages, phone calls and texts. Teachers have been working with students online, preparing them with practice tests, holding Zoom study sessions and motivating them to complete the final leg of their AP journeys.

At Pioneer, 384 students will take exams this year, up from 320 last year. At California High School, 622 students will take 1,031 AP exams. Whittier High School has 314 students signed up to take 614 exams in 21 different courses. At La Serna, 729 students are registered to take 1,331 exams – an increase over last year, when 630 students took 1,170 exams. Santa Fe High has 558 students taking 989 AP tests.

“This is certainly a challenge for AP teachers and students and they should be praised for their resiliency and ability to adapt quickly to online learning,” Cal High Curriculum and AP Coordinator Franny Padgett said. “What a way to embody Whittier Union’s Whatever It Takes initiative!”

College Board has put together an online guide with free resources, practice exams and review sessions.

050820_WUHSD_APRALLY1: Pioneer High School administrators and teachers provided AP test-takers with “survival kits” containing supplies and snacks to get them through the challenging exams, which have been shifted to an online format, during a drive-thru pep rally on May 6.

050820_WUHSD_APRALLY2: Pioneer High School administrators and AP teachers gathered on May 6 to cheer on students, who will be taking their AP exams. In all, 2,607 students will be taking over 4,000 AP exams between May 11 and May 22.