Students regretfully bid adieu to Princeton Review

The Southerner

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By Lauren Ogg and Ciena Leshley

Junior Valentina Makrides walked into the SAT on Nov. 5. She sat at her desk and knew she was ready for the test. After spending her Saturday mornings at Grady for SAT preparation courses, she had the necessary knowledge.

The Princeton Review offers a course to help students prepare for the SAT and ACT. The class used to be taught at discounted rates for after-school weekday courses and free for Saturday morning sessions at Grady.

Due to budget constraints, however, the program was cut for all APS schools in December 2011.

APS director of media relations Keith Bromery said the cancellation of the $600,000 program occurred because of a budget shortfall.

“There are definitely people who can’t afford classes or SAT prep books to study,”  Makrides said. “It’s not fair to take [them] away.”

Makrides said the Princeton Review program helped prepare her for the SAT. Even though she was not originally planning to take the class, she was thankful her parents signed her up for it.

“It was helpful because it was forced upon me, and it was so long of a class that I actually learned,” Makrides said. “I wouldn’t have taken time out of my Saturday morning to [study] alone by myself.”

Similar to Makrides, junior Cassidy Sparks attended the free Saturday classes this past fall and enjoyed the learning experience.

“[The class] was beneficial,” Sparks said. “We got a variety of books and materials to use during and after class.”

Because of  the program’s cancellation, students will have to search elsewhere to receive SAT preparation. Junior Dominic Romeo was planning on participating in the Saturday morning classes this year and was upset when they were cancelled. He hopes to take a similar class elsewhere but has been discouraged by the cost of other programs.

“I already have the materials,” Romeo said. “I just want to learn the skills and tricks.”

Makrides said that although she is able to pay for the classes, she sympathizes with those who cannot afford them.

“Now that it’s gone, what’s their option?” Makrides said.

One free alternative to the Saturday morning classes is the SAT prep class offered at Grady during first and third periods on B-days.

Principal Vincent Murray said he set up the courses in order to provide opportunities for students to excel on the SAT. This class is conducted by literature teacher Beverly Rice-Hooper.

“The rationale was the fact that all students don’t stay after school,” Murray said. “[There are] plenty of seniors who needed additional support.”

Makrides thinks the idea of creating a replacement class is good in theory but believes the execution is flawed. She does not believe the class will be very effective since Rice-Hooper, unlike Princeton Review instructors, is not specially trained to teach an SAT prep class.

Murray explained that next year, Grady is looking for a new prep program that will be more engaging than this year’s program. Murray said that next year’s program looks promising so far.

“The format will change, and students won’t get bored,” Murray said. “[The program] will be more attractive to students.”

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