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Quick guide to electives

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Mrs. Caballero’s American History Through Film Class (Kyle Vyfvinkel).

When looking for new classes every second semester, the titles of the classes can leave a student wanting more information on what they are getting themselves into. As seniors, we have had to go through the same turmoil. To solve this, we have compiled a guide to give a brief look into some of the less self-explanatory or just more complex electives, reveal possible academic benefits, and on how students will be graded in them

One class that’s most likely coming to Serrano next year is the California Cadet Corps. “It’s not the same as [Military Prep Program], but like MPP, it’s meant to mostly be run by students.” The class has standards. You’re expected to not have any F’s. While there will be physical activity in the class, “it’s 80% mental, 20% physical,” and the class can help with more than just Military training, such as firefighting. “The class is mostly about teaching leadership,” so showing your determination and leadership skills will be part of the grade, but there are also some concrete things to be put into the grade-book, “like knowing the history of the Cadet Corp.” There aren’t any requirements to do so, but you could be part of the MPP at the same time as being enrolled in the Cadet Corp.. However, some students are unable to take part in MPP for any reason could be in the Cadet Corp. as a substitute.

 “If you like building things with your hands these are the classes for you,” explains Mr. Martin, regarding Aerospace & Principles of Engineering. It’s recommended that students take either POE or Intro to Engineering Design before Aerospace. POE, 1st semester, is all hands-on mechanical stuff, 2nd semester integrates programming into what you build. “It’s the robot class.” POE uses mechanical & electrical engineering, and Aerospace uses elements of IED and POE, but is more advanced, and involves more physical engineering. “It is tough, but it can help with other subjects, like math and physics. If you want to make a career in engineering, make sure to go into IED first to learn about CAD.” Both classes entirely consist of  classwork, so just keep up; do your job in class every day and you’ll be fine. The students who excel are the ones who get their work done. If you’re behind in work, you’ll be behind in grades.

The purpose of American History Through Film is “to see how films infuse with popular culture,” and to “watch movies in an engaged way, and think about what [you] see on the screen,” says Mrs. Caballero. “[Students] cannot ignore the American History aspect of the class, they do not come in here to just watch movies.” There are only three essays per semester, aside from them, all work is done in class. Participation is also important (25% of grade). You need to be okay with black and white films, and the movies aren’t documentaries or movies about history, so “no Saving Private Ryan.”

Introduction to Personal Conditioning can help to prepare for future tests of physical strength in careers such as firefighting and the military, or for the less-directed; to learn different exercises and different forms of exercise. “It’s a bit of everything,” explains Mr. Antle. It can also help with a transition into Weight Room and generally stop gym nervousness. It is basically a more advanced form of traditional Physical Education, but it is also more information based; we try to teach you about exercise, how to lose or gain weight, what the proper form for different exercises are, etc. If you want to pass, work hard and “just do your best.”

“It’s just a personal choice on whether to choose 3D Foundation or standard Art I,” explains Mrs. Fitch. The class does have a different approach, and students will be working with all different sorts of thinking to use the provided materials to form something new. “It’s a whole different mindset than you would use in Art I.” Students will “learn about constructing & sculpting forms with plaster and clay. The focus is on designing, creating and constructing.” The purpose of the class is “to really use the techniques that are taught to refine their projects into something beautiful.”

Two possibly mixed-up classes have their differences: 3D Animation is mostly building characters for a game environment, while Computer Game Programming involves designing and programming a game. 3D Animation “is a lot more than making a 3D movie. It incorporates a bit of physics and math,” explains Mr. Dennison. 3D Game Design on the other hand involves working with the Unreal 4 game engine to design a functioning game level over the course of the year. 3D Animation & Game Design can teach skills to lead to a career in the gaming industry. For the 3D classes, you really need to have a passion for the work to succeed; “the students who consider this class their ‘playtime’ are always the ones with the best grades.”

Intro to Computer Science and AP Computer Science are not continuations of each other, rather AP Comp. Science is just more advanced and involves more programming. Intro to Comp. Science teaches everything about computers: how to use them from an approach of never having used one before and their history. Meanwhile AP Comp. Science is much more focused on learning how to program. “You need to know how to use a PC in the modern age,” says Mr. Dennison. Web Page Design will go through the process, during the whole year, of making your own website. Students will learn how to design their own website and learn to program in CSS and HTML. Web Page Design can lead to a foothold in a career in designing Web Pages. There are no textbooks for any of the computer classes, and to get a good grade, the most important thing to do is to “follow along, keep up, and do your work.”

If you need to brush-up on (or learn) skills needed for college, AVID may be the class/program for you. “Students need to be invited in via an application that is handed out to all 8th graders for AVID 9 and all 9th graders for AVID 10,” explains Mrs. Bradford. There’s also plans for eventually having AVID 11 & 12 to continue the skill-building. The course consists of two days a week for teaching note-taking strategies, another two days will be for meeting with college tutors, and the last day will be binder checks. “It’s a pass/fail class, but it is an elective credit.”

If you want to go into a career involving law and law enforcement, Mock Trial is a good class to take. The first semester is all about learning rule of law and different kinds of laws, and second semester is much more focused on debate and argument structure. However, both semesters involve doing mock trial activities. Students will learn how to construct logical arguments, teach public speaking, and learning to look at a situation from multiple perspectives. To get a good grade and generally excel in the class, students must be comfortable with public speaking & arguments. It is based much more on participation based than using textbooks and worksheets.

In it’s unique little bubble are the Theatre classes. The classes are mostly continuations of each other, but Theatre Arts I and Musical Theatre are an either-or situation, where each will prep you for Theatre II in the next semester. Theatre III is for Sophmore year, & Theatre III & IV is for Junior and Senior year. There is one set of tryouts for both Acting III & IV which you must pass to get into the class. Acting III does one act plays, & Acting IV has two big performances after school. The Acting I class is very academic, with textbooks and quizzes. Acting I, also focuses more on oral presentation, not just acting. All of the classes are graded on effort, not on talent. “I’m not going to compare to Johnny Depp-tiers of acting,” reassures Mrs. Quinn. The student would likely do best if they had prior acting experience before the class, but they can sign up at any time; even incoming Juniors are encouraged to sign up. “The extra-curricular is pretty flexible,”  Theatre III has six after-school practices, and Theatre IV has twenty-six.

Mr. Dennison’s ROP 3D Animation class. (Kyle Vyfvinkel).

Intro to Engineering Design (IED) and Robotics are two classes that are being offered by Mr. Dyerly. These classes should be taken if there is an interest in becoming an engineer, especially the Intro to Engineering Design which gives students background knowledge in many fields of engineering. Mr. Dyerly says the IED class “gives students a comprehensive background on the design process using CAD to model their designs,” and the Robotics class is “designed to get hands on experience designing, building, and using robots.’” In IED, Mr Dyerly says he expects students to “complete all of the activities and show mastery of the skills of each activity.” In Robotics, Mr. Dyerly states, “students that design and build a robot that completes all of the design objectives and documents and document their design accurately in their engineering notebook will earn good grades.” According to Mr. Dyerly, he says, “there are no requirements for either class but it is helpful in Robotics if a student has already had IED.” He highly recommends either of these classes, especially if there is an interest in engineering.

 Next year, Mr. Bodell is offering his Bible as Literature class. Mr. Bodell gave the newspaper an elaborate explanation of his class. Mr. Bodell states, “My Bible as Literature course is a relatively easy elective course that allows students to explore the Biblical genres (narratives, wisdom literature, prophecy, poetry, gospels, epistles, etc.) in order to familiarize students with the Jewish Bible and the Christian New Testament.  It allows students to read the content for themselves (as we read sections of it in class), and the corresponding textbook enables students to make connections across disciplines like history, government, art, poetry, film, and even music. It generally helps students recognize Biblical allusions in the world around them. This can be helpful for AP students who are expected to understand at least some basic Biblical allusions, but it can help any student to be more appreciative of culture and help them recognize depth and complexity of certain literary or artistic works.  It is not a faith-based devotional class by any means. While several students have taken the course who do follow faith-based traditions – and many of these students have enjoyed appreciating and analyzing the Bible for its literary merit – several students have taken the course from agnostic or atheistic perspectives and have enjoyed interacting with the content as well. Often times, students with little exposure to Biblical texts bring a fresh pair of eyes to the stories and enable the entire class to glean something new in their appreciation of the text, so I love it when there is a mixed group of students who come from various backgrounds.” Mr. Bodell further addresses that “most of the work is completed in class. It is an elective and I only have a class set of books, so I keep that in mind. You might say that “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Get it? I feel like I provide ample time for students to complete assignments in class, so that there is not much to interfere with the responsibilities of the core classes.” In order to sign up for the class, Mr. Bodell says that “you just have to be a junior or a senior. And you have to be awesome. How do you become awesome? You just sign up for this class and Bam! What?!  You’re awesome.  I look forward to seeing you in class next year.”

Every year, Mrs. Walczynski offers an elective called Peer Leaders. In this elective Mrs. Walczynski says, “students learn leadership, public speaking and active listening strategies in order to lead Synergy, do one on one active listening sessions with students who need an ear to listen, and lead social awareness campaigns on campus related to mental health and other issues of concern to the class.” Peer Leaders is class that’s meant for students who want to make a positive difference on campus. Mrs. Walczynski says the class “focus on spreading knowledge and awareness of social issues and mental illness.” In order to join the class, students must submit an application and go through interview. Grades, attendance, and discipline records are reviewed. Mrs. Walczynski believes that “this is a very special course that offer things no other class on campus can.”

Another elective is the Accounting class offered by Mrs. Morris. Mrs. Morris says, “This class has been around for a long time. After teaching it a couple of years, I managed to get it A-G Approved as a “G” elective and have also since then, had it articulated with VVC for college credit. It articulates with BADM50.  The first quarter is primarily devoted to personal finance – checkbook accounting, how to write a check, how to create a budget, how to save money, calculating interest rates and time for buying a car or a house and for financing student loans. It gives the students, especially seniors a real reality check about what life is going to really be like after high school. I am able to provide rigorous coursework and meet the guidelines for articulation without having homework. There is also no outside time commitment. With the majority of the course having to work with a lot of math skills, it is easier to correct students in class for a better result rather than trying to have them complete work at home and not understand it and learn it wrong. It is much harder to fix once someone has learned it wrong.”

Mrs. Morris is offering three new electives next year: Business Technology and Communication I and II. Mrs. Morris states that “these [electives] are to replace and enhance the existing Computer Applications I and II courses. We are moving to servicing only year-long courses, and it has been a necessary step to redesign the courses to meet state standards and requirements for grant funding. As with the current courses, the new courses will have a no homework policy as it is really difficult to give specific platform computer work with students having varying equipment and limited access to the Internet (especially if you live in Phelan the Internet access can be crazy). The new expectations for the courses – we will be adding a communication element – more presentations, more technology, and more visual elements (digital photography, Photoshop, InDesign). This is part of a new emerging field in business and has lots of different requirements, we are going to try and get to all of them in the new two-year sequence. Unfortunately, with the move to a year long course, it will be extremely difficult for freshmen to qualify for the 2nd year course. If they are really interested in advanced technology and business skills with possible certifications in documents, presentations and spreadsheets (Excel will be new for the 2nd year course), then students will be able to take the new improved Computer Applications II course as 10-12 graders.” Mrs. Morris also mentions the new agreement with community colleges. She says, “we are currently pursuing articulation agreements with Chaffey Community College as well as VVC as so many of our students attend both – the new courses have already been approved by VVC.”

Mr. Davis is offering two electives next year: Woodworking Occupations and Furniture/ Cabinet Making and Finishing. Mr. Davis says a student would take Woodworking Occupations “if the student wanted to learn how to use woodworking tools safely and learn how to make something with them.” Basically, a student would be able to say, “I made this.” For Furniture/ Cabinet Making and Finishing, Mr. Davis states a student would take this class “if the student would like to go to the next step and expand on what they learned in woodworking, as well as, creating some really unique projects.” In the Woodworking class, students would be expected to learn tool and shop safety, build three required projects, and create and build three projects of their own choosing. In the Furniture and Cabinet Making class, students are expected to build a cabinet and piece of furniture and design and build projects that would show off their skills. In order to receive a good grade, Mr. Davis says, “ Both classes have a textbook which will have assignments, which will need to be completed, and get a good grade on them. Also, the projects which include the required and their projects that they design and build, would also need a good grade. Not quantity, but quality is more important. Also, participation in class like group projects and cleaning the shop and picking up after themselves is all part of their grade.” A student must take Woodworking in order to take Furniture and Cabinet Making. According to Mr. Davis, another benefit in these classes is “both classes are articulated with Victor Valley College, which means if you pass with an A or B you receive college credit.” This class isn’t just limited to young men; it is a class that encourages anyone and everyone to join.

Next year, Dr. Kellie is offering a new class for seniors called Business Leadership. Dr. Kellie says “this course is active, be prepared to PLAY, COLOR, and DRAW. You will participate in many exciting team building activities. Through these activities, you will develop knowledge about yourself and others as a leader. You will learn different types of leadership styles and develop skills and practices to make you a better leader in our community and workplace. Speaking of the workplace, you will learn management skills. Through an online sims game, you will be  the boss of their own company. You will learn to manage a small facility and control limited factors. As your business grows, your knowledge in leading and business grows.  You get to decide what to do if you were the boss. This sim teaches business, management, supervision, and entrepreneurship skills.” She mentions that this course does meet the “G” in the A-G requirements.

Dr. Kellie is also offering Marketing I and II. “Do you like digital design? Do you like working on computers? Do you like creating marketing materials such as t-shirts, banners, stickers, plus creating online advertisements? Do you want or need a college approved class? If yes, then my Marketing courses are for you. Because my teaching philosophy is learn-by-doing.  Serrano’s marketing courses focuses on digital marketing to include creating blogs in WordPress, learning Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. We will also learn using an online simulation game to build your own retail space. Retailing is our a sim of all-time. Teenagers love to shop, and this online simulation teaches students the business basics and exposes the secrets of retailing. Students learn the tough business decisions that impact their common shopping experiences – why stores are located where they are, how stores decide to price products, etc. The Sports and Entertainment sim gives students the opportunity to “work” in the exciting sports and entertainment world. The online simulation teaches students the hard business decisions that go into the sports and entertainment events the students enjoy in real life. Students handle promotion, ticket pricing, stadium operations and staffing, sponsors, concessions, concert booking and promotion, and more. My courses are designed to learn advanced software skills simultaneously, while learning marketing skills. Both of these courses will bridge the gap between information and real world experience,” Dr. Kellie states.   

There are plenty electives here at Serrano that fit many interests that a student may have. When you are going through your CRC, really think about what classes you may want to take and if they interest you or help pursue your career interest. Any of these teachers would be more than willing to answer any more questions you may have about their elective either by email or in person.

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The student news site of Serrano High School
Quick guide to electives