Towards the end of sixth hour, text after text pops up from the group chat “Valencia’s Hype Club” as the boys get hype for their next hour. With one minute until the seventh hour bell rings, 10 senior boys file into their class, cheering, high-fiving and yelling, “LET’S GO,” at the top of their lungs. These boys aren’t in weights class or team games — they’re just getting ready for another day in AP Environmental Sciences (APES).
When the bell rings, only a quarter of the seats are filled, but no one is absent. The class is comprised of only these 10 boys, most of whom are friends outside of the classroom.
“We’re louder than a class of 30,” senior J.R. Allen said.
Nonetheless, the group chat of all 10 boys in Miss Valencia’s seventh hour APES class is not used for any academic purposes. This AP Environmental Sciences class is the only AP Environmental class in the district, exclusive to East.
The boys being good friends inside and outside of school makes the dull moments in the class much more exciting and the class worth taking according to Kevin Grinstead.
They’ve established numerous rituals, long-running inside jokes and bonds through each class period. They constantly text in their group chat and jokingly accuse senior Chase Conderman of cheating every chance they get.
In the back left corner you can find seniors Tim Coode, Jack Mikkelson and Kevin Grinstead keeping the curriculum light with all sorts of inside jokes. Outside of the classroom, they often hangout — whether it’s playing Xbox, frisbee or going to each other’s houses.
The small number and the great amount of energy the boys give off when they walk into the room every day gives them the opportunity to become closer. Messing around and treating every day like a Friday builds a special dynamic, according to senior Matt Ruether.
At the end of last year, a few of the guys found out there was only one hour of APES. The boys wanted to take an AP science, so they gathered a few other friends to enroll in the class. The original roster started with 14, but four people dropped at the beginning of the year.
“I had just taken AP Physics last year and I didn’t want to take Chem 2 after being a year off of chemistry, so I was like, ‘Well here’s another AP class and there’s only one hour of it, so what if I got a bunch of my friends to take it as well and then we’d all be in the same class?’” Ruether said.
Not only do the boys hype each other up every day for fun but they also do it for their teacher, Stephanie Valencia, whose first five hours are all freshmen biology classes.
“They’re just crazy,” Valencia said. “I mean, they’re the good group of friends so they get really excited about it. They come in here every day and scream at each other and getting each other excited so they have a good time.”
So far they’ve worked on a tectonic plate lab and a termite lab — where you see how well a real termite follows a line from a pen due to the thickness, shape and color.
“We had this crippled termite trying to do it and he was trying so hard to keep going and it was really funny,” Grinstead said. “It was like if I did that without a friend I would just be like, ‘oh this is taking forever,’ but I was doing it with friends [and] we were just laughing about it.”
Instead of dreading the day of a test like most other classes do, they look forward to test day — yelling and clapping to pump themselves up before filling out the multiple choice questions and free responses. They even travel to other classes, but not without their signature test day shirts.
The shirts have a photo of senior Cabin Manley on the front saying “It’s Test Day!” in a speech bubble and the letters A-P-E-S on the back.
“We all start yelling ‘Test day!’ and a lot of times Mr. Kramer has tests on the same day we do, so we like to pay them a little visit,” Ruether said. “We gather the whole bunch and we go into Mr. Kramer’s room and we all yell, ‘Test day!’ and we get them hyped up for their test as well.”
Not only do the boys get everyone hyped for their unit exams, but with each test day comes the usual passing around of their “test juice” — a giant jug of water that they use for labs. They’re convinced that chugging the juice before each test will make them do especially well on their exam.
Although there are only ten boys when the bell rings, that doesn’t stop the small class from making AP Environmental Sciences more than just a science class.
“Everyone fulfills a certain role in the class,” Allen said. “It’s like a family.”