CHS Principal to 8th Graders: Choose ‘Most Rigorous Courses’ You Can Handle

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[Editor’s note: this article originally ran on December 23, 2016.]

The following is an email from Columbia High School Principal Elizabeth Aaron to the families of 8th grade students regarding Course Selection for high school.

Dear 8th grade families:

Please be reminded that course selection forms are due back on January 4 to their school counselors.  We are glad so many parents/guardians and students have taken the time to attend our ‘drop-in hours’ in the last week and ask specific questions about the course selection process.  We enjoyed having the time to meet you and learn more about our Cougars, Class of 2021!

Please be aware that if your student is interested chorus, orchestra, or band, and wishes to take a world language, those two courses will fulfill their 10 credits of electives.  We know that many of our 8th graders are excited about other electives such as TV production, animation, photography, computer science, CAD, etc. Please know that over the course of their 4-year high school career, they will find ample time in their schedules to take some of those courses.

If your student selects honors World History, they will have access to the pre-AP course schema and content – that is, exposure to the scaffolded rigor and framework of AP work. Please learn more about pre-AP work at  By the early winter of their freshman year, they may opt to register to take the AP World History exam to receive potential college credit. This is optional within the course. We are excited about this first exposure to AP rigor for students who wish to pursue it and committed to supporting our teachers and students as CHS implements this learning component in the honors course for the first time next year.

All students are encouraged to select the most rigorous courses for which they are ready. Please review your individual student letter in Powerschool for your students’ current performance levels and consider your students’ strengths, interests, and areas of growth when making your course selections.  Time management, outside family, work, and activity commitments should also be a factor in the decisions you make about your child’s course selections for the 17-18 school year.  Time to be outside, be with friends, read for pleasure, pursue a sport, hobby, fulfill family obligations and a job and service opportunities are all part of the high school experience.   If you have any questions about course workload or content, please review the documents on our website to assist you in your decision-making.

We are aware that some students may have taken away from our information the idea that student athletes should not pursue honors courses. This is not the case. All students are encouraged to make choices that suit their interests, passions, and readiness levels.   Our student athletes pursue all of these things over the course of their high school careers, and also perform at our highest academic levels.   Many choose to pursue both academic rigor and athletics throughout and beyond high school.  Currently, CHS students are doing both beautifully at universities such as Virginia Tech, Fairfield University, Susquehanna,  Ramapo College, Stanford, and Duke and their experiences at CHS gave them the preparation to do so.

The coming vacation week is a great time to review your students’ choices and talk more about the choices and road ahead.  Please know we look forward to having you be part of our CHS community, and we’ll see you soon!

We wish you a happy and healthy holiday season, and a good New Year.

Best regards,

Elizabeth M. Aaron

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