Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

Lathrop math students

Lathrop High School math students who will head to college with college math credits include, front row, left to right: Casandra Erdman, Juliana Mondelli, Kathryn Day, Hannah Knott, and Katie Borland. Back row, left to right, Emman Mendoza, Anthony Hunt, Kendra Underwood, Payton Roberts, Jace Henry and teacher Daniel J. Hackett. Not pictured: Carson Ash, Kaylee Findlay, Emma Rubin, and Charles Talania. 

Fourteen students at Lathrop High School are making sure they are ahead of the game when it comes to college math.

Together, 14 LHS students in advanced placement (AP) calculus have earned 59 credits of college math this past semester. And that is even before taking the AP exam.

“College algebra and precalculus are the entry level math classes at most universities and colleges and the AP program does not recognize this fact,” said Daniel Hackett, Lathrop High School math teacher. “My calculus students already have this knowledge and I wanted them to earn the credits they deserve.”

So he pushed, cajoled and strongly encouraged students in his AP calculus class to practice solving Algebra CLEP problems. The end result? All 14 students passed the Algebra CLEP exam and received college credit (accepted by 2,900 colleges/universities nationwide). And they haven’t even taken the AP test yet.

CLEP is the college level examination program widely accepted to allow students to demonstrate mastery of introductory college-level material and earn college credit. Students can earn credit for what they already know by getting qualifying scores on any of the 33 examinations, sponsored by the College Board.

Hackett said he is proud of the students and the extra effort they put in, but he is also excited to inform parents about the CLEP program, so they can hep their children take advantage of it. 

For Hackett, it made perfect sense to nudge these students toward getting college credit for something they already know. 

“An example is STEM Algebra II has a similar curriculum to CLEP Algebra and matches University of Alaska Math 105. The district’s Functions Analysis and Trigonometry class has a similar curriculum to CLEP Precalculus and comes close to the UAF Math 151 and 152,” Hackett said. “It is also to the students’ advantage to take tests like the CLEP in high school or shortly after, while things are fresh in their minds and they are most likely to pass.”

“There is real college cost savings here,” he added.

He said all his kids took both CLEP algebra and precalculus tests and walked into college with seven CLEP math credits, four AP calculus credits and three AP stats.

“Fourteen credits is almost a whole semester and meets the math requirement for a lot of majors,” he said.

He’s thinking ahead and hoping future students will take advantage  of the CLEP exams. He created a new pilot class at Lathrop High School for next year that will prepare students for taking those exams. It’s a math prep class that the school district has named “Post-Secondary Testing.”

Maybe next year, even more students will get a jump start on their math college credits.


Good karma

When tow truck driver A.P. McDonald lost his cell phone while retrieving a broken down dog truck near the entrance to Denali National Park, he thought it was gone for good.

His wife Annette posted a plea for help on Facebook, adding, “This is probably a long shot, but ….” He was loading a dog truck onto the bed of the tow truck and thinks the small, black, flip phone got dropped somewhere between the entrance and the small pullout just north of the entrance on the Parks Highway.

Someone who lives at Denali saw that post, made her way to the entrance area and found the phone.

Annette thanked her on Facebook and Susan Wright responded. “Fifteen years ago, A.P. provided a tow for me when I had no means of immediate payment.”

“Good karma coming back to you,” she wrote.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris