Grant helps students in military families take AP courses

9NEWS @ 5. 10/19/2016

COLORADO SPRINGS - For students like Zach LaCross, adjusting to school can be difficult.

"Five different schools in seven years," LaCross said. "This is the sixth actually."

LaCross is a senior at Doherty High School in Colorado Springs. Both his parents serve in the Air Force and he has moved from state to state from continent to continent. He says moving all the time has given him an uneven academic experience.

"You just kind of have to scrap everything you learned before that and relearn something new," LaCross said.

To address that, the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Math & Science Initiative, and the Colorado Education Initiative's Legacy Schools Program have teamed up to support schools serving large numbers of military families. Wednesday, a $2.3 million grant was announced to help students take more Advanced Placement courses.

Doherty High School Principal Kevin Gardner says giving students in military families more access to AP courses offers them stability even if they have to move again.

"You know their school colors are going to change and their mascots are going to change, but that AP class is going to be pretty consistent from location to location which is huge to a kid," Gardner said.

While the coursework is difficult, LaCross says AP classes can make a difference for students from military families, academically and socially.

"Once you have a certain sense of normalcy, something that you're used to," LaCross said. "It helps you feel at home at least to some degree."

The grant pays students $100 for achieving a score of three or above on certain  AP tests. Students will also receive Saturday study session and online training. Teachers will receive additional professional development to help them be more effective while teaching these AP courses.

"Students of military families, children of active military duty are also serving," Greg Hessee said.

Hessee is the director of the Colorado Legacy Schools Program provided by the Colorado Education Initiative. He says making sure students from military families are prepared for college is key.

"I think it's very important that we make sure that their parents' sacrifice doesn't take away from their children's opportunities to achieve in life," Hessee said.

LaCross says opportunities and stability are exactly what students like him need.

"Having that sense of being comfortable," LaCross said. "It definitely makes life a lot easier for you."

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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