District approves three courses for next school year


Renée Remsberg

This article was originally published in the Dec. 7, 2018 print edition of the Oracle

Health and Wellness

Health and Wellness, taught by health teacher Heather Boyle, is one of the new classes that the district approved on Nov. 19. The class will be year-long, as opposed to the current semester-long class, which Boyle said will provide her with more time to go in-depth on the current topics covered. According to Boyle, the additional semester will allow her to incorporate topics like emotion and mental health, positive psychology, gender, and sexuality.

“I’m excited about being able to spend more time on the social and emotional aspects of health and wellness,” Boyle said. “That applies to everything from why do people make the choices they make around substance use, to what are the things that are causing stress, to how can we be happier.”

Boyle said the class will provide more flexibility to students who have difficulty fitting a one-semester health class into their schedule and would allow students to learn more about health.

“I think students find it really valuable to spend time in their school day thinking about the things that bring joy into their lives, working through the problems they’re having, [and] hearing what their peers have to say about various topics,” Boyle said.

The course is currently awaiting approval for UC A-G requirements, another factor that Boyle said would contribute to student enrollment.

STEM Capstone

The course will be taught by engineering teacher Lydia Conoway, who is working with Ann Nguyen and Brendan Dilloughrey, who are also part of the Technology, Engineering, and Design department, to design the curriculum. According to Conoway, her vision for the class is to provide students with an opportunity to create bigger projects than ones currently offered by the technology or design classes.

Although the there is no set curriculum yet, Conoway hopes that the first four to six weeks of the class will be a crash course on teamwork and developing skills in constructive criticism, and the rest of the year students will be able to use those skills to create their own projects.  

Conoway said the course was inspired by students who were interested in continuing their engineering and computer science projects, but she hopes the course will be able to reach other student groups on campus.

“We want everyone who has interest in building, creating, and making things to have a place where they feel comfortable doing that,” Conoway said.

The class is modeled after the Career and Technical Education program’s STEAM Academy, which strives to incorporate skills students would need for future employment into the classroom. Additionally, the course will be submitted for UC A-G approval and CTE credentials.

Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy and Physiology, a class about the structure and function of the body, is a new course that will be taught by current Biology Honors teacher Ann Nguyen, who previously taught the course at a different school. The course will be research and project-based and will feature activities such as creating models of the human body and animal dissections.

“We are very excited about offering a new science course to our students,” physics teacher Gina Dunsmore said in a written statement to the Oracle. “We hope it will further meet the need to prepare students in STEM subjects and encourage more students to take more science courses.”

Dunsmore will be contributing to the curriculum. The course is currently pending UC A-G approval and will be submitted for CTE approval in the future.