Seniors are not the only people in an application crisis. The freshmen are going through the nail-biting time; but instead of shelling out Common Apps, they are instead trying their luck for the AHLISA (American History, Literature, and the Integrated Study of the Arts), AmStud (American Studies), and RAHP (The Ridgewood Academy for Health Professions) programs. AHLISA, AmStud, and RAHP are unique, interest oriented programs that strive to further students’ studies in their prospective careers. For instance, if you are curious in pursuing either medical or artistic fields, or simply want medicine and art incorporated in your curriculum, RAHP or AHLISA are highly recommended. If intense group study is up your alley, then AmStud is a perfect fit. To get the full scoop on each of the programs, I spoke with students from each of these specialty classes.
Junior, Kat Bonfiglio, is a second year student of AmStud and only has rave reviews to offer about the program. According to Bonfiglio, “AmStud is a community that makes the school smaller, and creates a tight knit academic environment.” Bonfiglio particularly emphasizes the communal aspect of these classes. While the academic part of the program is rigorous, the curriculum is then contrasted with a social aspect where students are given the opportunity to go many trips and ultimately bond with each other. Kat adores this mixing of a social and academic environment, “It’s nice to know that on any given day, there will be someone during the AmStud room during lunch to help you with quizzes and essay materials.” Blythe Romano, another second year student, highlights the collegiate benefits of the program. She states, “The intensity of the courses prepare you for future AP classes and to even take the APUSH [AP U.S. History] exam as a junior.”
As a member for the AHLISA program, I can personally speak for its greatness. If you are any way interested in the arts, apply for AHLISA. It not only creates a community of artistic students, but it nurtures a network of friends. Within AHLISA, there are various in-class opportunities where students are able use their personal medium to demonstrate comprehension of a subject area. Through these demonstrations, the class grows to truly appreciate each student’s creativity, and through this appreciation buds friendship. I can honestly say that my AHLISA class is a group of friends I will have for the rest of my life. Whether it be our trips to museums, our high school musical sing alongs, or our late night history test rantings, I have shared so many wonderful memories with my class and cannot believe I will not be in AHLISA next year as a senior. Molly McCarthy, a student in my AHLISA II class, believes that the “program has taught me to collaborate with strong personalities, and I feel that this skill will help me in the workforce, no matter which path I choose.” Jonathan Negron, an AHLISA I student, thinks that it “is a great way to exhibit individual and vastly different art forms in a constructive and supportive environment.” The academics of the program are heavily on project-based assessments, so it is a great class for stereotypical “right-brained” learners. However be wary, because AHLISA’s academic standards are higher than many expect. Since a significant amount of class time is spent as art lessons and graded discussions, students must be ready to quickly absorb and be tested on curriculum material. Overall, if you are a passionate artist who is ready to be challenged in a welcoming atmosphere, AHLISA is the fit for you.
As a second year RAHP student, junior, Roya Nasseri has nothing but praise to offer for RAHP. Roya believes that, “The RAHP program exposes students to all aspects of the medical field.” She attests that the internship portion of RAHP is key. Since the RAHP program is intertwined with an internship at Valley Hospital, you really have the opportunity to observe the specifics of each path in the medical field.” Nassari went into the program dead set on being a doctor, and since has found great interest in medical fields she didn’t know had existed. RAHP is science centric, so if you are not a STEM buff you might want to reconsider applying. Roya also praises the RAHP english classes. She states, “in RAHP, we approach literature with both a psychiatric and medicinal background.” These classes consider several perspectives when reading literature such as Frankenstein or Catcher in the Rye, “We not only look at the character’s viewpoints but analyze characters from a psychiatrist and doctor’s perspective. For example, we had to diagnose Gene from A Separate Piece with a mental illness.” Overall, if you have an interest in the medical field, grab your scalpels and syringes and apply to RAHP!
Ridgewood High School has a plethora of great speciality classes, so I say go and apply. If neither AHLISA, RAHP, or AmStud find to your interests, CP, Honors, and AP courses are always available. AP courses, specifically, usually tend to sway several students away from thematic classes. In my opinion, my AHLISA experience is more valuable to me than that of any AP class. You miss out on a certain sense of community with AP classes because unlike AHLISA, AmStud, and RAHP, students aren’t united through common interest: only academic ability. For the AP credit fanatics of RHS, sticking to honors level for two years might be unbearable, and if that’s how you feel, hey, more power to you. If that is the case, then just remember to take a second from your AP course load to hit like on my next AHLISA field trip Instagram.