AP Art History Returns


After a few years, the AP Art History class is being offered again for the Fall 2022 semester at RHS. 

The AP Art History class is a humanities course that explores the relationship between art pieces and the historical situations that inspired them, beginning in the Prehistoric era and extending all the way to contemporary pieces of the present day.   

Although it has appeared on the course catalog these past few years, the course has not been able to actually occur due to the demand for other beginning art classes during the school years affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.     

“Art 1 was really popular during COVID, a lot of kids were taking that and so there’s only a certain amount of art teachers and so I think that became the priority, and just with sign ups, I don’t think a lot of people knew about it because I wasn’t out there recruiting it,” AP Art History teacher Patricia Leong said.     

Despite a relatively normal 2021-2022 school year, the class was still unable to be offered even with an adequate number of sign-ups because of it being a single, elective class. Especially after COVID, students often had to make a choice to prioritize other classes.      

During the 2021-2022 school year, the course was advertised to students to consider for the next year. The sign-ups had been sufficient for AP Art History to be offered during 4th period this semester, which is making its return to a full class of 32 students.     

According to Leong, returning to teaching advanced courses in a more traditional format has been a challenge, especially for a content-heavy class that hasn’t been offered at all for a few years.      

“Teachers and students are all trying to get back to the rigor that once was, and this AP Art History class is seven to eight units, so it’s a lot of class, and it’s hard to teach it in a semester. So we’re just trying to get everyone back to speed and the rigor that was there before,” Leong said. 

Despite the challenges of such a course, Leong is still trying to engage students through different ways of exploring art history. Students are encouraged to engage with the material by keeping an eye out for connections between the content and things they encounter everyday. Junior Trielle Flores has connected many architectural themes of the class to her own day to day experience.

“There’s actually a lot of things that I find, even around campus you see all the pillars and the columns, and it’s like, oh, it’s the pillars like from ancient Rome,” Flores said. “I’ll be playing my video games, and I’ll think oh my gosh, it’s the Hypostyle hall, we talked about that in AP Art History.”

This way of considering the material has set the course apart from other academic classes Flores has taken.

“I feel that the class is a lot more interactive, and it kind of gets you on a more personal level,” Flores said.

AP Art History is not necessarily an art class, but Leong plans some special “art therapy” days in class to relieve students of such a heavily packed course. Students have created  Prehistoric chalk “cave paintings”, molded playdough Buddhas, and have the opportunity to visit local art museums. 

“I am trying to balance both fun and rigor, and it’s an adjustment, so it takes awhile for everyone to get on board,” Leong said. “Hopefully by the end, everyone will be really excited about it.”