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AP Huskies Shock the World
  • Academics
  • Advanced Placement

If the purpose of school is to prepare students for college and career, what does it mean when 85% of our AP Huskies are deemed College Qualified or more?

Perhaps we need to modify the perception of HIS. We are not only a great boarding school for the outdoors, arts, and service, but also a school with a proven track record of academic success.


AP Huskies Shock the World

by Jared Pangier

Having grown up with the Rocky Series, using songs like "Eye of the Tiger" and "Gonna Fly Now" to pump myself up before wrestling matches, I am not one to shy away from a bit of hype or hyperbole. Sometimes we need that as a reminder of what we are capable of doing. When Rocky beat Apollo Creed in Rocky II, the announcer exclaimed, "Rocky Balboa Shocked the World!" And it was shocking. Rocky was the underdog. He was not a professional boxer by trade. He was a street fighter who grew up in the rough streets of Philadelphia. Whereas, Apollo Creed was a college athlete,  who transformed into a boxer with a professional trainer and a flawless record. Before he faced Rocky in the first film, he had won 47 matches with no losses or draws. And yet, often times the underdogs don't get the credit they deserve. Oftentimes there is something unseen in the world of the underdogs that actually provides them with advantages that the top dogs don't have. Rocky had the grit only built from the street, he had the meat house connections, he had the hunger to make something of himself, and he had if I must say so, the eye of the tiger. He was focused on the most obvious prey in front of him: beating Apollo Creed; earning the title; changing his life.  

Now I don't mean to minimize the work of our HIS AP All-Stars by equating them to Rocky Balboa. I understand that the downfall of analogy is the way it might put real people in the wrong box. And yet, I think the perception of HIS since I've worked here (starting in 2014), has been just that—putting Huskies in the wrong box.

Sure, HIS is a great school for the outdoors, for experiential learning...and how about their music program?! 

Comments like that are nice but may leave you wondering about the strength of HIS's academic program... 

In the past decade of my teaching career (2014-present), I have seen some of the most talented students walk through the third-floor halls and into my classroom, and today, I'm here to share with you how HIS AP Huskies are not lacking in academic ability. I'm here to let you know that HIS AP Huskies truly have shocked the world!

Let's begin with some specific examples. To start, why not consider two students? Sari Hirata (Class of '22; Sari's Perfect Score) and Valeriia Li (Class of '23; Exceptional Achievement: Valeriia Li Receives Perfect Score in AP Art).

Did you know that they both earned the top-dog award within the College Board Advanced Placement arena? Yes. And I have the letters to prove it!

Their Perfect Scores came with hard work, and a lot of support from teachers, staff, parents, and friends. Not only that but the personal connections and support that are part and parcel of a school of HIS's size is something that we cannot overlook. Having worked closely with both students in different ways through their time here, I can say that I could not have given the support that I gave in a larger school with higher student-to-teacher ratios, and I know the same is true for my colleagues. Moving beyond the numbers, I would say there is a sense of deep caring and commitment by the staff to helping students maximize their potential and growth. To return to my analogy above, there are unseen elements in the environment that contributed to these perfect AP scores. The HIS environment cannot take all the credit for their hard work, but it certainly did guide Sari and Valeriia towards perfection.

An introductory excerpt from Sari's study:

A Sample of Valeriia's AP Art Portfolio:

Moving beyond just two individuals, let's turn to fourteen more. Last spring (2023), during our final secondary assembly, Mr. Cooke read off fourteen names: 

  1. Kate James — AP Scholar
  2. Miyako Cammack — AP Scholar with Honors
  3. Ena Kanai— AP Scholar with Honors
  4. Hana Katayama — AP Scholar with Distinction
  5. Aina Nishi-Strong — AP Scholar with Distinction
  6. Valeriia Li — AP Scholar with Distinction and AP Capstone Diploma (back then, we didn't know she got a perfect score)
  7. Rem Ota — AP Scholar with Distinction and AP Capstone Diploma
  8. Sasha Syrkhina — AP Scholar with Distinction and AP Capstone Diploma
  9. Julie Meij — AP Scholar with Distinction and AP Capstone Diploma
  10. Taishi Ogawa — AP Scholar
  11. Audrey Ishiyama — AP Scholar
  12. Katie Kim — AP Scholar with Distinction
  13. Koyuki Cooke — AP Scholar with Distinction
  14. Jiho Han — AP Scholar with Distinction and AP International Diploma

The requirements for these prestigious awards are as follows:

AP Scholar: Scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP Exams

AP Scholar with Honors: Score of at least 3.25 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams

AP Scholar with Distinction: An average score of at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams

AP Capstone Diploma: earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing

AP International Diploma: Display exceptional achievement across a variety of disciplines, specifically an international student who earns at least 3 on 5 exams across the required topics.

More details of the award requirements can be found on the College Board website.

Finally, in order to revise the incorrect perception of Huskies being weak academically, we turn to the actual AP results. 


So now that we've seen two examples of AP perfection, 14 examples of AP Scholars, and two illustrations of HIS AP Huskies shattering the averages, is there any question that my hyperbole in this article title is justified? Yes, please share this with your friends and the rest of the surrounding HIS Community—please set the record straight—while HIS Huskies may not have a 47-0 record, we do have many, many students who leave the school being college qualified and then some. And so, the next time you hear someone question the integrity of academics at HIS, will you nod your head and agree, will you pretend that you didn't hear, or will you stand up and howl?

That's not true—we are Huskies—and our academics shock the world!

  • Advanced Placement
  • Huskies Academics
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