Beginning the 2020-2021 School Year

Good day, students!

We live in some pretty crazy times. While the country tries to figure out the best way to reopen schools safely, one of the main reasons cited for reopening is to keep students from falling "further behind." I want to address this, and I want you to understand something.

You are not behind. You are not somehow doomed for the future because school closures and the pandemic happened this year. Yes, this is massively inconvenient, and some opportunities have changed shape or disappeared (to be replaced later by new ones), but you aren't starting the year behind, no matter what anyone else tells you. You have enough to worry about right now without fearing that you're already at a deficit.

The whole country had to pump the brakes this year. Every school experienced some sort of change and interruption in instruction. While on paper and in testing it may feel like school has moved on and advanced without you, it hasn't. Your teachers will meet you where you are, and we will work together. Not to "catch up" to where you need to be, or to try to cram more than a year of learning into a year, but to help you keep growing. 

We as a society have had to realize that we cannot just pretend this doesn't exist and has no effects; whatever your opinions are on the virus or politics or anything else, it has been disruptive to lives, homes, industries, and economies. To pretend that students (or anyone else for that matter) should be at the same point they would have been without the virus is ludicrous.

You are okay exactly where you are, and you will grow this year just as you need to. Keep working with us, we will keep working with you, and you'll be right where you should be. All you need to worry about is making sure you more forward.

Whatever happens this year, let's try to make it a good one.

To AP Students in 2020

This is just a test

(read this right before your test)

Good day, AP students:

Hello! It's test time.

What happened this year?!

Keep your head on straight. You took on this challenge because you know that you're made of the right stuff. Or maybe you're not so sure, but someone else knows you're up to it. Everything became very strange this year, but that doesn't mean that you can't make the best effort possible.

Be honest, shut out everything from your mind but the topic of the question(s) you get, and buckle in. Use the resources available to you, tell everyone else in the house to stay off Fortnite so that you have a stable internet connection, and follow your teacher's guidance. We want the best for you and have done the best we could under the circumstances, our own personal circumstances included.

You'll do the best for yours. Those of you that I personally teach are brilliant students with constellations of potential, and no matter what happens on this test, you're going to still have everything you learned this year to help you in the future. You've overcome obstacles, some placed by fate and some placed by others, and even some placed by yourselves. You are some of the hardest working, most intelligent people I know (adults included). It will serve you well. You are here now, and I am proud of you.

Okay, it's time. Log in, get your windows ready, write your AP ID at the top of everything with your initials, take a deep breath, and start thinking AP.

I'll be waiting for you on the other side!


Mr. E

A Note to My Students at the End of the Year

A note for my students at the end of a very strange year

Hello, students!

It looks like this is it for the school year. We finally made it. The age-old wisdom from my grandfather that all situations are temporary has proven true again - a very bizarre semester has finally ended. On to the next thing, now.

I don’t know what next year is going to look like or what we should prepare for. What I can tell you is that I’m excited to come back. If we can’t safely come back in person, I’m excited to get back together online and give this another try. We can learn from what worked and what didn’t.

Look back at this year. Take a deep breath and think about how bizarre it has been. It's okay, it's not complaining, it really has been bizarre for everyone. Some of us have lost so much, and some of us have been nearly unaffected. Some of us face losses yet to come of every sort and don't yet know it. Tomorrow can be a scary place.

Remember that what you have learned this year will help you in that tomorrow. You are still made of the same intelligence, creativity, and problem solving skills that you started the year with. All of that will help you forward too. The future is a funny thing; we think that we will be somehow less capable, less organized, less intelligent in dealing with our future problems than we have proven to be in the past. The best version of you may be in the future, but it's built of what you already have inside you. You're ready for what will come.

Please have a safe, healthy summer. Don’t give in to the temptation to believe that none of this is real just because you can’t see it. I know a lot of people have still been getting together like nothing is happening, and if you’re doing that and not getting sick, it’s just luck. This thing is a real public health risk - take a look at the globe. This wouldn’t have happened for no reason. Be careful, be safe, keep separated from people outside of your home if at all possible. It sucks, I know, but the alternative could be a whole lot worse.The virus won’t go away because you’re tired of it or because you don’t feel like it’s real.

Take care of yourselves. Normally I’d get to talk with you one more time and encourage you to stay positive, to keep on top of taking care of yourselves and others to the degrees that you can, and to keep looking forward. It’s easy to let disenchantment and disillusionment take over. Be resilient, don’t let it.

Keep tabs on what’s going on in the world. We used to do current events from time to time, and that’s when my classes were the most engaged; you all really do want to know what is happening and why, and to figure out how you feel about it. Use those sourcing skills and the critical thinking skills that we worked on all year.

Please feel free to send me email over the summer and let me know how you’re doing and/or ask questions. Maybe you’ll be working on getting ready for the next stage of your life, or maybe you read something in the news you’d like more background for. Or maybe you just found a really good history meme. I’m still here, and as always I’d love to hear from you.

Okay, that’s it. You are loved and we are thinking about you. Take care, and one way or another, I’ll see you later!


A Note to Graduating Seniors in 2020

A note to graduating seniors in 2020

Hello, seniors at SoHi. I wrote you something, and I hope you get a chance to read it. You can click on the image above or you can just click here.

This is in lieu of the wistful and reflective stuff I say in front of the class at the end of the year, so perhaps you should be thankful that you can't hear it!

AP Test Updates

Everyone looks like this right now

We now have some important information about the exams administered during 2020. Here are the critical details and changes:

  • Testing Method
    • You can take the exam on phone OR computer (you cannot use both simultaneously except as described below)
    • Submissions will be either:
      • typed on a computer
      • or handwritten, then photographed and uploaded on a phone
      • Other option: open test on computer, write response on paper, photograph on mobile device, copy to computer, upload on computer
      • Note: test responses must be uploaded from the same device the question is accessed from
    • Your time will have to be tracked
  • Test Questions
    • APUSH will have a single DBQ question
    • APGOV will have the argumentative essay for 25 minutes, and the concept application essay for 15. There will be five minute answer upload periods between each
  • Rubric Adjustments (more details coming on 4/3)
    • APUSH: Documents reduced for DBQ from 7 to 5
      • Revised rubric that offers points for other things since you have fewer docs
    • APGOV: one of the more difficult points has been removed due to the timeframe, and an easier point has been added
  • Test Security
    • Students are not allowed to seek help from others
    • Technology and tools to detect impersonation and collaboration will be in place, consequences will be severe
      • Students who cheat (or conspire to cheat between now and the test) will have that noted on all of their test results when they're sent to colleges
    • Teachers will receive copies of your exams, which enable us to ensure that it matches your skill, ability, and handwriting
  • Other Details
    • Test results can be used for an in-class grade, as teachers will be given access
  • Test Dates
    • All exams will take place between 5/11 and 5/22, and makeup dates will be 6/1 - 6/5.
    • Take the test during the early window in case ANYTHING goes wrong (dead battery, wifi goes out, computer crashes, etc) the first attempt
Course Questions Test Date

One DBQ Question with 5 Sources

Exam Covers Units 1-7

5/15, 10 AM (Alaska Time)

25 Minutes: Argumentative Essay

5 Minute: Upload your response

15 Minutes: Concept Application FRQ

5 Minute: Upload your response

Exam Covers Units 1-3

5/11, 12 PM (Alaska Time)

AP Reading notes: The reading will be done digitally this year. Next year, unless CDC guidelines forbid, the in-person reading will happen as per usual.

Good luck to us all!!!!

For my students:

I will be doing live Zoom lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30am to 11:00am starting next week. A schedule will be published shortly. All lessons will be recorded.

Get studying: