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The Aquilian

The three most meaningful classes I’ve taken at Gonzaga

Ms. Emily Kokol-Riveral (left) and Mr. John Gardner (right) are two of my favorite teachers at Gonzaga. Photo by Canfield Lee Whiddon

Over my four years at Gonzaga, I have taken many different classes and gained a lot of knowledge and improved my education by attending these classes. Like all people, some subjects are more interesting to me than others, and I excelled in some classes, such as history and english, while I struggled in others such as my math and science classes. Through the courses I have taken over my four years, I have learned that I am very interested in history and politics. The classes that I have taken at Gonzaga, both the good and the bad, have led me to decide to double major in History and Secondary Education in college because I have been inspired by a few of the teachers that have taught me. Three classes and teachers, in particular, have had major influences on me and shaped me into who I am today. I believe that every Gonzaga student should take AP United States History, AP US Government and Politics, and Political Science. 

 AP United States History (APUSH) was my junior year history class. I was looking forward to the class entering my junior year, but I had no idea the influence it would have on me. Mr. John Gardner taught the class, and from day one, I knew he was different from the majority of the teachers that had taught me before. Mr. Gardner brought a unique energy to the classroom, and the vibe in his class was immaculate. It is hard to describe, but Mr. Gardner’s class just had a different feel from all my previous history classes. Learning about American history in his class had me so invested that I spent time outside of class reading and watching more about American history. APUSH made me fall in love with history. Never before had I realized how cool and interesting history was. In my previous experience with American History in middle school, we barely learned past the revolutionary war, and my teacher wasn’t very engaging. Most of Mr. Gardner’s class was an open discussion and anyone could jump in and share their thoughts on whatever we were learning. Overall, APUSH made me realize how awesome and important history is. 

When choosing my classes for my senior year, I had many options to choose from to fulfill my social studies credit. I had heard that AP U.S. Government and Politics is an interesting class so I decided to take it.

I am currently finishing up my AP U.S. Government class, and it has been my favorite senior year class. I firmly believe that every high school student should be required to take a U.S. government class because it is incredibly useful. Over the course of the class, I have learned how our government was formed, which branches of government can do what, how regular citizens interact with the government, what civil liberties we have and much more. Ms. Emily Kokol-Rivera is one of the best teachers that I’ve had at Gonzaga. While I have gained a lot of knowledge about the government, the class has also just been a really fun experience. Although it is an AP class, it does not really feel like it. The content is straightforward and the writing component is much easier than APUSH. The vibe of the class is entertaining as it is a senior only class and there have been many hilarious moments that have taken place during class. I will definitely miss this class when I graduate and will look back fondly on the memories made in this class 

To fill one of my elective spots for senior year, I went back and forth on deciding what to pick. I eventually decided to take Political Science, and I am very happy that I chose to take it. I had heard that Mr. Ed Donnellan is an excellent teacher from my older brother who had him during his junior year for American History, and many of my friends who had him our junior year shared that opinion. 

Mr. Ed Donnellan, another one of my favorite teachers, taught me a lot of important concepts in Political Science. Photo by Canfield Lee Whiddon

Although it was only a one semester class, I learned a lot from it. During this class I learned about the different philosophies of Plato, Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. It was really interesting to learn how each of these men had different perspectives on how society should function and who should have power and influence in society. The class opened my eyes to different ways of thinking that I had not been exposed to before. Mr. D is an amazing teacher, and there was never a dull moment in his class. 

Overall, these three classes each had a distinct impact on me. Through APUSH, I gained a better understanding of American history and fell in love with history. I have learned a lot about the ins and outs of the government and I now feel much more educated when it comes to discussing the government and politics with others after taking AP US Gov. I gained a better understanding of political and philosophical thought through Political Science. I encourage all Gonzaga students to take classes that they think they will enjoy rather than filling their course load with a bunch of difficult classes that they will struggle through and don’t enjoy. 


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