For the fourth year in a row, the College Board has recognized Whittier High School for expanding young women’s access to Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science classes, bestowing the school with its 2021 AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award.
Whittier High received the award for fostering equal gender representation in AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) during the 2020-21 school year and is among 1,200 high schools across the United States honored by the College Board. The school has received the award every year since its inception.
“My message to female students is always that AP CSP is a great introduction to computer science and no matter what they choose to major in, this class will benefit them in the long run,” Whittier High computer science teacher Dan Whittington said. “The enthusiasm for STEM is very high. We have amazing counselors who are doing a great job encouraging our female students to enroll in AP CSP and other STEM classes.”
The recognition reflects the increased interest in exploring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes among all Whittier High students, particularly incoming freshmen, led by strong recruiting efforts by teachers and counselors at Whittier Union’s partner elementary and middle schools.
“It’s really exciting what we are seeing coming out of the middle schools, the numbers are much bigger than in the past,” Whittier High counselor Nancy Alpert said. “Girls are finding that computer science and engineering classes offer an opportunity to be creative and align well with their own passions. Our teachers make perfect mentors and do a great job in making the material easy to understand.”
Whittier High’s AP CSP class, one of just two AP courses available to freshmen, has maintained a pass rate of more than 80% for the past three years.
“I decided to take AP CSP because I want to continue to take computer science,” Whittier High senior Kyanna Purnell said. “Computer science really challenges me and the idea of working in a male-dominated field makes me feel even more empowered and motivated to do this work. I would especially like to break the stereotype that only men are capable of doing computer science.”
To accommodate the increased number of students enrolled in STEM subjects, Whittier High will combine its STEM Academy and Cardinal Computer Academy into one group for the 2022-23 school year, renaming it the Cardinal Academy of Technology.
“As a STEM major myself, I care deeply about increasing the diversity of students who major in STEM fields in college and entering STEM-related professions,” Whittier High Principal Tim Liggett said. “I am very proud of the work our team has done to build a belief among our students that STEM is for anyone and everyone.”
WUHSD_COMPUTERSCIENCE1: The College Board has recognized Whittier High School for expanding young women’s access to Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science classes, bestowing the school with its 2021 AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award.