The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

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May 4, 2010

‘Highland University’ honors benefactor

ANDERSON, Ind. — Highland High School students who have driven an increase in the challenging courses that can reward them with college credit recently thanked a local businessman who has supported their efforts.

“I was very surprised, but on the other hand, I was very proud of the achievements of the kids and the teachers,” said Bill Surbaugh, owner of Surbaugh & Son real estate. “It’s quite a step forward for them and for our community.”

Highland counselor and Advanced Placement coordinator Kyle Poyer said students recognized Surbaugh’s contributions that enabled students to start and expand “Highland University,” a club for AP students. “Mr. Surbaugh was a big part of making that happen,” Poyer said.

“At the beginning of the school year, we had had a very successful AP season, and we thought, ‘What can we do to capitalize on this?’” Poyer said.

Highland University students planned events such as tailgate parties before football games, bringing in DJs, attractions provided by the armed forces, games and other entertainment.

The events were fundraisers that the club used to help offset the costs of AP exams. It costs $86 to take a College Board-sponsored AP exam, but money the club raises will lower those costs for test-takers, Poyer said.

The test can be a bargain for students who pass when those credits are applied toward college.

Poyer spoke of one Highland student who earned nine college credit hours at the University of Evansville by passing a single AP test. He said another student graduated last year carrying 12 credits to Ball State University — almost a semester’s worth.

Poyer said Highland principal Lucinda McCord has supported the club’s efforts. McCord notes that Highland University students gain leadership and community service opportunities through the club.

“I really believe kids enjoy having a core group of people who have the same academic interests they do,” she said. “It also makes AP more visible.”

Surbaugh said he has been sold on promoting AP courses for more than 20 years. “My son came home from college and said, ‘Why don’t we have AP in Anderson Community Schools,’” Surbaugh said. “I didn’t know what the concept was.”

But when he learned about it, Surbaugh bought in — literally.

“It’s been a longtime passion of mine to work on this,” he said. When Highland and Anderson High School are combined next  school year, Surbaugh said he expects the AP offerings will expand — more students mean more classes are likely to be full enough to be offered.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for the two schools to join forces together,” he said. “We ought to be able to offer no less classes, and probably more.”

“It enhances the image of your school and your community by offering the AP courses,” Surbaugh said. For students looking for college scholarships and financial aid, “AP courses are the best thing you can bring to the table.”

Contact Dave Stafford: 648-4250, dave.stafford@heraldbulletin.com

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