By Brendan Connelly and Griffin Ruebner, Staff Writers
// In order to maintain an effective and thoughtful curriculum throughout the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD), proposals for new classes may be made, vetted, and approved.
The AUHSD Governing Board unanimously voted to adopt five new courses for the 2021-2022 school year on Dec. 9 to create more opportunities for students to engage in learning.
The five proposed classes were Advanced Placement (AP) World History, Future Ready, English 4: Women’s Literature, Introduction to Wood Technology and Engineering, and Medical Intervention Honors.
Although the Board approved each of them, the five new classes will only become options for students if there is demand and if school administration at the individual schools across the District can accommodate them.
“Just because the course is approved does not necessarily mean it will be offered. It is not uncommon to have courses offered at one or more sites and not at others,” Governing Board Member Bob Hockett said to Blueprint.
The goal of AP World History is to create a viable alternative to the European focus history students receive in AP European History.
“We already have an AP European History class offered for sophomores. There is another AP sophomore class offered by College Board and that is AP World History… [There has been] an increased call to move to a less eurocentric model to a more modern world history model,” Associate Superintendent Aida Glimme said at the meeting.
Future Ready will only be offered at the Acalanes Center for Independent Study. The goal of the class is to teach students crucial independent learning skills.
“Future Ready was the course specifically proposed for the Acalanes Center for Independent Study… As we have really delved into the study of how our students are doing there, [we have seen] a tremendous need for a course that brings in a focus on skills of how to be an independent learner,” Glimme said.
English 4: Women’s Literature aims to explore gender by analyzing literary works of women throughout history. It is a class where students can take a baseline course with a specific focus.
“Several years ago, we approved offering twelfth-grade students the option of taking a more specific English class in lieu of traditional twelfth-grade English. Many students district-wide have taken advantage of that. In fact, at least one of our sites only offers such selectives. [English 4: Women’s Literature] gives twelfth-graders one more option,” Hockett said.
Intro to Wood Technology and Engineering will be a new woodworking class that focuses on art and design principles using wood as its medium.
“This class is designed for more specific skills than are currently being offered,” Hockett said.
The Medical Intervention Honors course the Board approved is a continuation of an elective offered at Los Lomas.
“The order of designation was to have a capstone course on that pathway, which has been developed by Las Lomas. They want to make sure that that elective course can be taken across a three four year track,” Governing Board Student Member and Miramonte High School senior Preston Nibley said.
In addition to the newly added courses, the Board agreed to alter the pre-existing course of Physiology by changing its name to Human Anatomy and Physiology and offering the course to tenth-grade students instead of solely upperclassmen. This will be a supplementary option for a sophomore science course to the suggested Chemistry in Earth Systems course.
“I encouraged the change to include tenth graders into my course. The material in my class does not need any special knowledge of chemistry or physics… So, essentially, a student is ‘ready’ to take the course after Living Earth,” Living Earth and Physiology teacher Thomas McNamara said.
Many students at Acalanes are excited for the new course additions to become available next year.
“I think it is good to mix things up. Having new classes can give kids a lot of new options about what they want to focus on. Adding more options definitely gives students more freedom and opens up more possibilities about what they can do when they leave high school,” sophomore Luca Mathias said.