Next year’s new classes and electives


Credit: Angela Park

WSPN’s Natalie Hsu goes over the new courses offered for WHS students next year.

Angela Park and Thomas Chan

WSPN's Thomas Chan and Angela Park go over the new courses offered for WHS students next year.

Social Studies:
Advanced Placement Government and Politics: While this class has been offered in previous years, it will now also be offered to juniors as well as seniors and in a “blended” environment where students meet in a classroom four days out of the eight day cycle. Over the remaining days, students will complete work independently online on itsLearning, preparing for the AP exam.

Attic Archaeology: In this project-based semester-long class, juniors and seniors will tap into local resources to discover and tell stories. They will visit graveyards, ruins, barns, public buildings and attic spaces to excavate unknown stories about the area’s past. The work will be almost exclusively completed during class time, and a season’s worth of short television shows will be ultimately created to present the findings to the general public. Working in front of a camera is not necessarily required.

Current Events I and II: Want to stay on top of important national and international issues? Tired of asking your history teacher if s/he could spend part of the period on current events? This class might be for you. In this semester-long course, students will journey around the world as events unfold, make sense of complex issues and do it in such a way to avoid swamping themselves with the extra work of a typical class. Current Events I is offered for freshmen and sophomores, and Current Events II is offered for juniors and seniors.

21st Century Democracy: This class is an exciting, up to date semester-long civics class for 10th-12th graders with themes that fall into two general areas: (1) The exploration of questions relating to modern American democracy, such as illegal immigration, privacy in the information age and the judgement of Edward Snowden’s leaks as heroic/traitorous and (2) Action-based projects that are democratically driven. In addition to classroom discussions, students will plan for and get active in off-campus community service projects, such as visiting with senior citizens, volunteering at the polls during elections and anything else that blends the ideas of democracy with the actions in a democracy.

Filming the Past: Like watching blockbuster movies? Want to discover how the silver screen can be a window into past American life? How do truth and fiction interact? In this course, students will explore the extent to which they learn about the past through Hollywood’s portrayal. The movie options are wide open, but they could include films such as “Saving Private Ryan,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Gangs of New York,” “Malcolm X” and “Titanic.” Like the other semester electives, the workload is generally limited to class time. This course is offered for juniors and seniors.

Foreign Language:
French 5 Film: The French Film course is organized thematically and gives students an opportunity to enrich their vocabulary, hone their speaking skills and expand their understanding of the Francophone world through a survey of French and Francophone cinema. The focus of the course is on building speaking skills, but students will also engage in short writing assignments, projects, related readings and online research regarding the film and other culturally relevant topics. Students will also review, practice and utilize the grammar skills and concepts they have attained during the previous years. This course is offered to those who completed French 4.

Philosophy: Where did the world come from? Are there universal truths? What is the best way to live one‘s life? This course will examine these and several of the other external questions that philosophers have pondered for ages. There will be an extensive review of the history and foundations of Western thought, as well as an exploration of philosophical and ethical themes in today’s world. Readings will come from the works of ancient and modern Western and Eastern thinkers and will include selections from Plato‘s Dialogues, Aristotle‘s Nicomachean Ethics, Kushner‘s When Bad Things Happen to Good People and the Dalai Lama‘s Ethics for the New Millennium. This half-year course can be taken at either the honors or college preparatory level. Those who choose the honors option will complete additional standards established by the teacher and is open to all grades.

Archeology: The History and Archaeology of Ancient Greece will examine the ancient Greeks from their earliest appearance (ancient Crete and Mycenae) to their conquest by the Romans, in addition to their influence on subsequent and current American culture. The History and Archaeology of Ancient Rome will examine the ancient Romans from their legendary origins at Troy and their arrival in Italy to the barbarian invasions, in addition to the influence and spread of Christianity, the survival of the Roman Empire after its fall and the influence of the Romans on current American culture. Both courses will use history as an organizing principle, but will examine ancient history through its physical remains: art, literature, architectural remains and artifacts. Concurrently, both courses will also examine archaeology as a discipline, with introductions to its history and methodology. Students in both courses will be responsible for nightly readings, participation in class discussions, quizzes and tests, as well as projects relating specifically to archaeology and one paper. This course is offered to all grades

College English 4: Communicating Your World: In this course, seniors will explore topics of individual interest and strengthen their communication skills in several modes. During the first quarter, students will tell about their lives via first person narratives and memoirs. During the second quarter, students will investigate individually chosen topics ranging from pop culture to politics, science to sports and education to entertainment. They will then inform and entertain others through short nonfiction pieces. During third quarter, students will use digital storytelling modes to transform selected first semester pieces into podcasts and short videos. For fourth quarter, students will develop an extended individual or paired capstone project that uses a combination of forms studies in the first three quarters.

Extended Topics in Applied Chemistry: The successful completion of a chemistry course is the prerequisite for this course. This course provides students at all levels with an opportunity to study additional topics not typically covered in chemistry courses at the high school level. Students interested in additional chemistry study will find a wide variety of topics covered with an accompanying lab component. The course will focus on applications of chemistry along with some theory, the focus being on current chemistry topics and ongoing research. Students will work with up and coming topics such as the chemistry of explosives, power production in nuclear power plants, chemotherapy in cancer patients, energy from food and metabolism, human diet and food additives and chemistry in genetic research.

(College and Honors) Anatomy and Physiology: One year of biology, chemistry and physics is the prerequisite for this course. Human Anatomy and Physiology is a laboratory-based course that investigates the structure and function of the human body. Topics covered will include the basic organization of the body, biochemical composition, major body systems and the impact of diseases on certain systems. Students will engage in many topics and competencies related to truly understanding the structure and function of the human body. Students will learn through reading materials, study guides, unit worksheets, group work, projects and labs, working from the topics of basic anatomical terminology to the biochemical composition of the human body, all the way into great detail of each of the major systems of the body. High levels of achievement will be in effect. Students will be responsible for several dissections of preserved specimens, proper use of lab equipment, lab reports and projects assigned throughout each unit. One of the goals of this course is to prepare students with the skills necessary to be successful in future science classes in college.

Creativity, Problem Solving, and Invention: Students will learn to design, prototype and build inventions that solve real-world problems. Students will work collaboratively in small groups to pinpoint situations or products that fail to meet those needs and motivations and will design and prototype new products and methods that overcome the existing shortcomings. Through experimentation they will test the success of their inventions and revise and refine them. Alongside the hands-on building of prototypes and solutions, students will engage in academic study of topics like fixed vs. growth mindsets, the history of prominent inventors and creators, the history and current state of the Maker Movement (including a field trip to local makerspaces such as the Artisan’s Asylum, NuVu Studios and/or MIT’s Media Lab), and even learn a little about how our brain biology underpins human creative activity.

Fine Arts:
Filmscoring: Steven Spielberg says that it’s amazing to realize how important music is for “directing the traffic of our emotions.” Spielberg says that “movies will bring us to tears, but music will make them fall.” Film scoring students will learn how to tell a story with music using our new state of the art music lab. Students will use Logic, ProTools, Korg TakTile and Korg Krome keyboards, as well as electric hybrid instruments to create music for short scenes. Students do not need to have previous musical experience. The course will involve collaborations with student film work and possible field trips and masterclasses with experts in the field. This course is open to all students.

Music Production Studio I: Have you ever wondered what goes into recording and producing a full album? Well, here is your chance to experience and learn the inner workings of a music studio and creating an album start to finish. Students will receive an introduction to becoming a Music Producer, Recording Engineer, Music Promoter, DJ and Performer! In a new state of the art music lab, students will learn how to use Korg Krome Keyboards, Electronic Hybrid Instruments and various music editing and sequencing programs. This class will also teach students how to promote concerts and rising artists using social media and interactive websites. Students will also make real world connections with local artists and industry leaders via Masterclasses, Skype and Field Trips. This class is open to all students.

Music Production Studio II: Music Production Studio 2 is open to students with previous musical experience and/or permission of the instructor. Students will use the new state of the art music lab and hybrid instruments to design, create, mix and produce complete albums. Final projects will consist of a complete album and will include strategies for marketing an album using the latest resources available, as well as learning how to sell original material on iTunes.