Beyond the Books

Brentwood High School Senior Ben Haug shares how AP Calculus with Launch reformulated his concept of math class.
By Caitlin Seiler

Brentwood High School Senior Ben Haug shares how AP Calculus with Launch reformulated his concept of math class.

Access Launch: How did you hear about Launch’s AP Calculus course?
Ben Haug: I asked about it, because I was curious about taking AP courses and I wanted to know if there were any online.

Access: Are you enjoying it so far?
B.H.: It’s pretty exciting because it’s not normal classwork. I’ve struggled with competition with other people, and taking this course online makes it easier to feel comfortable learning at your own speed.

Access: We’re glad to hear that. Is Launch what you thought it was going to be?
B.H.: No, it’s very different. It’s actually a lot more interactive—you can really connect with people and do different things, not just bookwork.

Access: Do you feel like you interact with the other students in class much?
B.H.: At some points we have discussion questions, so we’ll all be answering the same questions and answer each other’s questions or look back and see how we each thought about a problem.

Access: Do you know your teacher?
B.H.: Yes, Anna Nelson.

Access: What’s it like to work with an online teacher?
B.H.: If you reach out, she’ll respond. Also, there are online resources that you can use, or you can go to anyone with the Launch support team. It’s pretty easy to get help.

Access: What is your favorite thing about your class?
B.H.: I like how the work isn’t always exactly the same. Rather than just bookwork, every once in a while we’ll have a presentation or a video. It’s cool to have that in a math class.

Access: What do you think of the course’s pacing?
B.H.: I feel like I’ve learned more than I thought I would this fast. I feel like I’ve learned a
good amount!

Access: What about your experience with Canvas—has it been easy to navigate?
B.H.: It’s pretty straightforward. I like the way it’s laid out, it’s very easy to access assignments.

Access: How long have you been a student in Brentwood?
B.H.: Since fourth grade. I was born in St. Charles, raised in St. Peters and then came here.

Access: Are you involved in any sports or extracurricular activities?
B.H.: I play tennis—I’ve played all of high school. For clubs, I’m in Speech and Debate—I’ve been in that for four years. I’m in Stuco—I’m the Vice President. I’ve been in NHS (National Honor Society) since junior year, plus German NHS, Feminist Coalition and Students Demand Action.

Access: Wow, that’s awesome. What’s your favorite?
B.H.: Speech and Debate, by far.

Access: We heard that you competed at the Speech and Debate Nationals competition last summer. Tell us more about that.
B.H.: My favorite event is Storytelling, and they offer that at Nationals. You compete with hundreds of other kids from around the nation. This year it was in Dallas, Texas, and I made it to the final round.

Access: Awesome, congratulations! Do you have a job outside of school?
B.H.: I work at FroYo in Webster Groves. Last week I worked around 15 to 20 hours but this week I work 5, so it varies.

Access: Do you watch TV?
B.H.: Not really, I used to watch a lot of the Cooking Channel. Ree Drummond is my favorite! I watch Netflix.

Access: What do you watch on Netflix?
B.H.: Jane the Virgin is my favorite show, by far. I watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, just for a laugh, and I’ve been rewatching a lot of Dr. Who on Amazon.

Access: Are you on social media? What is your favorite platform?
B.H.: I’m on almost every platform. I’d say Snapchat is probably my favorite because it’s easy to converse with people quickly.

Access: What website would you say you spend the most time on?
B.H.:—I like to keep up with everything that’s going on. It’s fun to keep updated and excited about the community and everything going on.

Access: Are you reading any books right now?
B.H.: I’m reading “The Scarlet Letter” for school. I’ve been prepping a lot for Speech and Debate so I’ve also been reading a lot of articles and plays.

Access: Do you have plans or goals for after high school?
B.H.: Yes, I’m going to go to college and study Elementary Education and eventually hope to become an elementary
school principal.

Access: That’s exciting! Do you know where you want to go to college?
B.H.: Not yet—there are a lot of options!

Access: What is your favorite thing about living in St. Louis?
B.H.: The community. It’s a very welcoming, diverse and open community.

Access: Do you have a favorite subject?
B.H.: I like different subjects for different reasons. I like History because it relates to everywhere, not just one place. I like English because I like writing. And Math is cool because everything has a solution.

Access: iPhone or Android?
B.H.: iPhone. It’s the only phone I’ve had.

Access: What would you do first, read the book or watch the movie?
B.H.: I used to read a lot more, so I would say book.

Access: Is there anything else you want to say about Launch?
B.H.: I like where it’s going—all the different schools that are trying it and having success with it. Also, I like that it’s diversifying the classes that are available to students. There are a lot of kids in Brentwood that would never have taken an Astronomy class or a Psychology of the Holocaust class or anything like that, and now they can. Launch has classes that are interesting and are not offered anywhere else.