New classes give variety to student schedules

March 20, 2009 — by Grishma Athavale and Ren Norris

New classes that are being offered for next year include Japanese 3 Honors, Computer Science AP/A, AP Environmental Science and three new advanced Media Arts Program (MAP) classes: multi-media journalism, advanced digital animation, and filmmaking.

These courses have been in the works for a while, with staff collaborating and gaining feedback for whether they would be successful. The new courses, however, will only be official in early April if enough students sign up for them.

“We don’t want to give the impression that these courses are guaranteed,” said assistant principal Brian Safine. “It depends on how many students sign up for each class to make them official.”

Following discussion with Los Gatos teachers, it was decided that the curriculum covered in the current Japanese 3 class should be changed to an honors course, said Safine.

Computer Science AP/A will be an advanced course, but it will not be as in-depth as the existing Computer Science AP/AB class. The language department changed the level of the course because it was too challenging of a curriculum for high school students. However, for students who are interested in a more advanced class, a variety of computer science courses are offered at most colleges.

The science staff and administration also decided to add another AP science option, particularly in response to a popular interest shown by students in a poll taken by science classes, which gave students a choice between AP environmental science and biotechnology.

AP Environmental Science, which will be offered to juniors and seniors, is intended to teach students scientific principles regarding the natural world and help them understand environmental problems. The school can only offer one period of AP Environmental Science. Seniors will have priority over juniors for the class.

Biology teacher Kristen Thomson, views this as a great opportunity for students who are really passionate about environmental studies.

“I think if enough students are interested in this class, it will be a huge potential for them,” said Thomson.

The MAP program is going into its second year with a full plate of offerings. Multimedia journalism will incorporate audio, visual, and website designs to make documentaries, news reports, and a video connection for the entire school’s use. It will be advised by Tony Palma.

Advanced Digital Animation, also taught by Palma, teaches the fundamentals of animation drawing examples from animated movies and cartoons, and introduces new software to create original animation. In Filmmaking, students can learn techniques of movie making and create their own short films. It will be taught by Chris Mahle.

“There is a thirst among students for classes with more technology that does not lose the fundamentals of art and design,” said Palma.

The teachers of each of these new additions are not a 100 percent certain, because the plans for them may change.

“We want to encourage students to choose a course by their interest in that course and not by who is teaching it,” said Safine.

The administration hopes that the new classes will open opportunities for students with unique interests.

“I believe these classes will be successful.” said Safine. “Since people on staff are so dedicated, most of these classes will definitely be a go.”

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