SHS offers new classes

September 23, 2009 — by Arnav Dugar

As planned, the six new classes offered this year are AP Computer Science A, AP Environmental Science, Japanese 3 Honors and three new Media Arts Program (MAP) classes: advanced digital animation, filmmaking and multimedia Journalism. The students, teachers and staff involved are excited about the new class offerings and are expecting this to be a rewarding experience for everyone involved.

“The new classes have been a very welcome addition on campus,” said assistant principal Brian Safine. “We have students who are pursuing their passions in [these classes].”

One extremely popular class is AP Environmental Science taught by Kristen Thomson, which includes interesting trips and projects such as visiting the waste water plant and making solar ovens. Junior Lauren Mather likes the class because it does not require as much math or memorization as biology or chemistry. The focus of the class instead lies in current events around the world she said.

Another offering this year is the new AP Computer Science A class taught by Debbie Troxell. Since The College Board discontinued offering the AB test last year, this class is a replacement for the more rigorous AB class available up until last year.

Sophomore Evan Ye signed up for this class because he wants to go beyond just using the computer as a tool. However, he believes that the popularity of the class will drop because the pace of the class is much faster and the course material is more challenging than what he expected it to be.

Several computer science students have noticed a drop in the class size after the first few weeks, confirming Evan’s feelings that although this class does not have any prerequisites like the AB class did, the course work is still quite demanding.

The three new MAP classes are exposing students to a new multimedia perspective on communication where students will get the opportunity to participate in several field trips related to the class such as visits to a Hollywood studio and a film festival.

Junior Megan Brading, who is taking the advanced digital animation class, said she likes the open environment where students get to explore the software. “I didn’t expect this class to be so ‘free spirited’ where you can work on whatever you want as long as it is productive to the final outcome of your project,” Brading said. Even though she thinks the class is not as easy as she hoped for, she thinks the openness will draw more students to the class in the future.

The multimedia journalism is working together to news reports and footage on events around the school, adding a new digital perspective to the journalism program. The class released their first weekly update on Sept. 3. To view, visit www.saratogahigh.org/shstv.jsp.

Sophomore Nicole Shadman hopes the weekly updates become more popular. “I’m looking forward to getting people excited to watch our show,” she said.

The new classes are bringing new perspectives and opportunity to students while catering to their interests so that they are more engaged and are able to get the most out of the time they spend in high school.

“It is not just learning content and checking off your college prep classes, it’s allowing students to pursue areas that are their passion,” said Safine.

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