New Graduation Requirements Meet Mixed Reactions

By Claire Mueller, Staff Writer

// When the underclassmen start to pick their new classes in January, they may find some unfamiliar course titles. In addition to the new classes, the underclassmen have a more rigid schedule for their four years at Acalanes than those the current juniors and seniors enjoy. Underclassmen are now required to take a redesigned Physics class and one semester of health.

Counselor Anne Schonauer explained the switch was made to solidify the new Human and Social Development class into students’ schedules.

“The district really wanted to include the new Human and Social Development class partly because we think it’s really really important, and also to more be in compliance with the requirements of teaching health in the state of California, to do a better job with that,” Schonauer said.

While the amount of credits required to graduate remains the same, the classes of 2021 and 2022 most notably are now required to take the redesigned Physics class, entitled “Physics of the Universe,” as juniors.

According to science teacher Thomas McNamara, the main goal of this schedule change was to help students in their adult lives.

“My initial idea when I started looking at these standards is they want kids to be able to reason through what they read as adults. So, when I’m reading an article on climate change, can I tell what’s true and what doesn’t sound like it’s true-if it’s made up,” McNamara said.

Sophomore Shelby Suppiger believes that while Physics is important, the class might not be for everyone.

“If people who are not doing well in the class, don’t want to go into the science field anyway, and don’t want to waste their time in that class, I don’t think they should have to,” Suppiger said.

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By Stephanie Liu

Freshman Olivia Mirabito also weighed in on the subject.

“I think that requiring physics makes sense, and to be honest I thought it was already required before the change,” Mirabito said.

Seniors who have already taken the class and juniors who are currently enrolled also weighed in on the issue.

Senior Ellie Porciuncula described it as one of her favorite classes last year, but also one of her most difficult.

“I do not think Physics should be a required class. While the class does teach some really interesting and important lessons, I think people should only take the class if they are actually interested,” Porciuncula said. “I know some people who struggled last year and I don’t think others should be required to take a class this hard if they do not want to.”

Senior Alex Young, who also took Physics last year, said that while he thinks taking the class should be encouraged, students who aren’t passionate about this subject might bring the class down.

“If a student doesn’t want to be there or doesn’t care, it will hurt them and the students around them,” Young said.

Current Physics student, junior Laura Bertolami, has a different opinion than the seniors and does think it should be a required class.

“I feel like there should be a class that’s less than what normal Physics is now. Where it’s slower, but it gets the same concepts that fit the requirement,” Bertolami said.

McNamara hopes for the same structure described by Bertolami.

“Hopefully, we can come up with a multi-tiered system. An Introductory, Honors, and an AP kind of idea, so kids can choose a more appropriate class,” McNamara said.

Laura Guthrie, the current Physics teacher, declined to interview.

Schonauer is confident in the Acalanes science staff’s new curriculum.

“I think the teachers have worked really hard to make a new science curriculum that meets the new national and state standards. So we’re actually one of the last districts to fully incorporate all those things.”

Suppiger is looking forward to putting the class on her transcript for future colleges.

“I think having Physics on your report card is a really good point on your college application. It’s a cool concept to be learning,” Suppiger said.

McNamara looks forward to the new changes for the students.

“I’m excited about it. I think it’s a really good philosophy and, implemented correctly, it’s going to do a lot of really good changes for the future,” McNamara said.

Young advises underclassmen to persevere through the course.

“Be prepared to fail at first. It’s important not to be discouraged because once you understand what’s expected of you in the class, it becomes significantly easier,” Young said.

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