Students will have 14 new classes to choose from next year


Aidan Backus, Editor-in-Chief

Lodi Unified School District’s curriculum council has approved 14 new courses which will be available to students beginning in the 2016-17 school year.

The approved courses reflect the need for specialized skills in a post-industrial economy, but the humanities have not been neglected: the classes cover a wide range of fields of study including social science, science/technology/engineering/mathematics (STEM), agriculture, theatre and physical education.

In fact, just about the only field of study that isn’t covered is foreign language, which is still solely Spanish and Italian.

“We should have French,” freshman Amanda Paulino said.  “If only [the district] could find a teacher that could teach us with a French accent.”

The increased emphasis on vocational classes reflects the need to meet Common Core standards, which emphasize abilities needed in the workplace as well as academic curriculum.

“I’m a geek at heart, but technology can be used to teach a lot of skills that are not

tech-driven — teamwork, problem-solving, and time management,” computer science teacher Jamiel Khan said.  “Common Core teaches these skills, and these electives are a very fun way to get into Common Core.”

Along with his introduction to coding class, Khan will teach Intermediate Coding and Robotics next year.  The classes will be taught in the general-purpose industrial programming language C++.

Agricultural classes are also being redesigned.  Freshmen who would take Agricultural Earth Science are now taking Intro to Applied Agricultural Sciences; Sustainable Agriculture Biology replaces Ag Biology; and Agriculture and Soil Chemistry replaces the old Ag Chem.  Agriculture Leadership will function similarly to ASB but applied to the agricultural industry; agricultural woodshop, mechanics, and “Sales and Services” classes will be introduced out of the classroom of engineering teacher Roger Crane, who is retiring and being replaced by a new agriculture teacher.  Floral design and Ag Economics and Government will remain unchanged.

In the social sciences, Alejandra Calderón will teach AP Art History, a class previously taught at Tokay and Lodi, in which students discuss “key examples of architecture, sculpture, and painting as evidence in history.”

American Law and Order will be taught by history teacher Jason Johnson and, while useful to students with interests in legal careers, will be practical to all students, as all citizens are affected by the law.  The course will focus on the legal system, and a second class, Criminal Justice, will be expanded from it at a later date.

The University of California and California State Universities previously accredited the curriculum of the course at Gunn High School in Palo Alto.  In addition, Bear Creek is working with Humphrey’s College, a local law school, to make course credit transferrable to community-college level Introduction to Law classes.

Another vocational class, Principles of Biomedical Science, will be taught by biology teacher Lauren Fromm.  The course is part of a larger program, Project Lead the Way, which seeks to expand STEM in K-12 education.  The class is activity-based and covers physiology, biology, medicine, and research methodology.

“I give a situation, and I give an opportunity to collect data,” Fromm said.  “The class is career/technical, so we’re looking to build hands-on learning.”

P.E. electives are intended for students who have completed P.E. credits but would still like to stay fit.  The electives, developed by P.E. teachers Corina Ayala and Darcy Altheide and still pending approval from the district, include a class on the fundamentals of soccer, softball, football, or basketball, a spin routine class, and a “Boot Camp” whose course description mentions “challenging and fun fitness programs.”

“I love sports and being athletic, so I would love having a class where I can [work out],” freshman Haley Nelson said.

Academic Decathlon will also make its return, but its teacher has not been decided.

Unfortunately, some of the courses will not be approved by the curriculum council in time for course selection this quarter.  As such, students who wish to take these courses will have to submit a counselor request to change their schedule after the courses are approved.

Classes that may be introduced at Bear Creek at a later date include CP Statistics, which would likely use the same textbook and similar curriculum as the current AP Statistics class, and AP World History, a class that will be taught by AP US History teacher Heather Blount, and will be an alternative to AP European History or CP World History for sophomores and an elective for upperclassmen interested in the in-depth history of human civilization from 8000 BCE to the present.