The Delta Academy is a program unique to Costa Mesa High School for high achieving students in math, science and technology. According to Delta coordinator Lee Kelly, “Delta is a rigorous pathway for students to be a part of that has an emphasis on high level science, high level math, and engineering type classes.” By participating in Delta, students receive opportunities to go on field trips to locations such as The Grand Canyon, Knotts Berry Farm, San Francisco, Astrocamp, and The Bodies Exhibit. The program helps create a pathway to college, yet many of these high achieving students, specifically this year's juniors, are running into problems.
This year, the Delta coordinators say that the required science class for juniors is AP Physics only. AP Physics is the only class that will qualify a junior for the program because the coordinators claim that is the most rigorous course, although some students say classes like AP Environmental Science and AP Chemistry are just as rigorous. Patty Smith claims that other AP sciences are not at the rigor of AP Physics. "It's too easy of a class, if it's an easy class then you're not one of the top students, you're not showing us that you're one of the top students; AP Environmental is not going to get you into four year college, four year colleges accept physics and chem."
According to Lee Kelly and Patty Smith, the coordinators of the Delta program, the requirements for the program include enrollment in an honors or AP science class as well as an enhanced math class either suited for or above their grade level. For example, a tenth grade student in Delta would take AP Biology and Enhanced Math 2 or higher. Last year, a student could still be in Delta if they participated in MESA, ACE, or science fair, even if they were not meeting the coursework requirements.
This year, some juniors chose to not take AP Physics and were removed subsequently from the program, even though they had been members since middle school and were still in the appropriate math class and an AP science course.
These new requirements have been met with opposition from the junior class, as many wanted to wait until senior year to take AP Physics, or wanted to pursue other AP science courses. One junior that is in Delta, who prefers to be anonymous, says "The requirements are reasonable due to what the purpose of Delta is, but in terms of enforcing the polices, it has been inconsistent. The juniors are almost done with high school, and there are a lot of intelligent and diligent juniors I know that have been kicked out this year. It's only all of a sudden that something like this has happened, and it's unfortunate that it did happen especially to some really smart juniors."
Junior Kate Piatti, a 4.4 student who has been removed from Delta said, "I think they have very strict rules that they twist when they feel appropriate. I understand the guidelines to the program, however I know of people who are not in AP Physics but are still in Delta. I am in AP Environmental and Trig/Pre-calculus yet I am not being accepted into "a program for those who take challenging courses in math and science". It is unrealistic to think these same kids, who are in many other AP courses as well as extra activities can put all their effort into a class that may have no impact on their future school and career choice."
Written by Christine Tfaye and Emma Chapel