By Travis Smola
The Schoolcraft school board unanimously approved a raft of new class options for high school students during the May term of the school’s new unbalanced calendar.
The board approved the move to a three-term semester in April. The new courses will be held during the shortened 30-day term to end the school year.
High School Principal Ric Seager showed the board a list of approximately 70 new courses the school will offer Some include credit recovery courses to earn back credit if students struggled earlier in the year.
But a big focus with the shortened semester is bringing back electives. There are old favorites like engineering and computer-aided design and some new, interesting ones like classes that deal in earth science, geology, zoology, psychology, history, literature, sports, music and marketing.
One of the more creative new offerings is forensic science. Teachers will create a mock crime scene and students will have to analyze it in detail. “It’s not just a game of ‘Clue,’” Seager said. “They’ve got to learn how to do fingerprinting and know how to do fiber analysis, hair analysis, how to do electrophoresis, a kind of DNA analysis.”
They’re also bringing back classic home economics-styled classes in baking and cooking. Other courses will cover things like digital art and photography. They will also offer yearbook for the first time in years.
Students will be required to take at least two courses dealing in core academic areas such as math, science, English or social studies. All the courses meet state content expectations. Students can also take up to two college courses. All freshmen will be required to take a career development course to help plan for the future.
Board President Darby Fetzer asked where the inspiration for the courses came from. Most of the teachers in attendance cited a passion for the subjects being covered. Seager said they also made sure each of these courses connected back to something they felt was valuable to teach students and would help them see their teachers in a new way.
They will have a parent meeting to further explain the new courses sometime in December. But Seager said he worked with this kind of schedule and elective-heavy semester before and said it re-energized students and staff who were burned out before summer break. “Who doesn’t want a change late in the school year?” Seager said.
The board also heard from Kelly Hipskind and Patrick Poer, co-founders of Sun FundED, a company that seeks to offer solar panels to public schools and universities at a reduced cost. Secretary Jennifer Gottschalk expressed heavy skepticism of the program, especially with the facilities study still on-going.
The board made no decisions on the matter, deciding to wait to see if there would be a potential bond issue in May before it considers solar energy.