The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

New year, new Social Studies class: AP African-American Studies to be introduced

Come the 2024-25 academic year, the Social Studies Department will offer African American Studies course to students, who can take it for AP or honors credit.

Beginning in the 2024-25 school year, seniors will be able to take Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies for a history credit. The class will be mixed-level, so students can take it for either an AP or honors credit.

Social studies course African American Studies was previously taught by METCO Director J. Malcolm Cawthorne. The class was not offered last year for the first time since 1967 due to lack of student enrollment.

Cawthorne said in the past the class attracted a diverse array of students and he appreciated the discourse it yielded.

“It was an incredibly rich class that brought kids from all over the school and incredibly wide dynamics,” Cawthrone said. “That was just so much fun to have them in a room and to talk about different aspects of history and tie into modern or current events and things like that.”

Cawthorne said the creation of the original class was tied to two major events: Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968 and the introduction of the METCO program to Brookline schools.

“It’s the oldest senior elective we offer, even before APs were widely distributed. And so, that’s a real history of why we have that course and why Brookline stepped up to create this course,” Cawthorne said. “I think to get a lot of kids who were African American, having the chance to look at the U.S. narrative and literature and art through another lens was really powerful.”

When African American History was first cut, the former Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator Gary Shiffman, and current Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator Jen Martin started looking for a way to reintroduce it. After the College Board, the non-profit organization that manages the AP Program, decided to offer AP African American Studies during the 2024-25 school year, Martin and Shiftman decided to offer the course at the high school.

Martin said that she spoke with Cawthorne, current METCO Coordinator Karim Azeb, the Black Student Union (BSU) and teachers within the social studies department to determine if the class should be offered as AP or honors level. Ultimately, she decided on both, marking the social studies department’s first mixed-level honors and AP class. Martin said she hopes that this combined-level class will be accessible to many students.

“I wanted to make sure that the class was still serving students who wanted to take it but not excluding students who wanted to take it,” Martin said. “Because once you put the AP on it, it definitely has an attraction, certainly in a school like this, where AP classes tend to be the most enrolled classes.”

Senior and BSU Secretary and Event Planner Kesiah Nwosu said she wishes she had the chance to take AP African American Studies and would recommend others to take the class.

“There’s a great opportunity to learn about a different culture and to learn about more opportunities, other than regular U.S. history or world history,” Nwosu said. “You can kind of marginalize your learning to a specific group that you don’t know much about, or that you’d like to know more about.”

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