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Lesser-known elective classes at Sandburg

Time ticks fast during the high school experience, and with every semester, students have fewer opportunities to take classes that specifically appeal to their interests and ambitions.

When Sandburg offers a plethora of courses and opportunities, why do some classes seem to be lesser-known than others? What are some ways to increase enrollment in classes which students can enjoy?

Why are these electives important, now more than ever? 

School counselor Mr. Johnson is available in the College & Career Center during 5th hour. He says that “any class that the student is possibly interested in pursuing a possible career path, then they should explore.” 

Mr. Merkouris, an astronomy teacher, says, “We want everybody to know about all the classes and be able to choose their electives that best fit them, but it seems like it’s difficult to get everybody to see all these things.”

As a counselor, Mr. Johnson has to direct students towards their academic goals while also considering the future that they’ve decided for themselves. But, some of these classes offer extra benefits besides the lessons taught in class. For example, two Computer-Aided Design classes (CAD) are offered for dual credit.

Colleges have told us, ‘if you take CAD in high school, you are more prepared to enter the engineering program in college. There are many students, especially in senior year, who take more math or science classes. But if they fit both CAD courses in their schedule, they are more prepared to enter engineering careers,” Mr. Johnson says.

Dual credit courses are similar to Advanced Placement (AP) courses in the aspect that you may be eligible to receive college credit for the class. 

Mr. Johnson says that “You see some of these science classes and notice they’re dual credit. For example, Geology is a dual credit class. A lot of students do not realize that there’s dual credit opportunities for different classes.”

So how can we further promote the benefits and opportunities of dual credit classes to students?

According to Mr. Johnson, “Students sometimes rely more on their peers to choose electives that they will have together so that they are in the same class. Students should research more of these elective opportunities through the course catalog and talk to their teachers and school counselors about these courses. Through the exploration process, students can see details about courses that could spark an interest in a future career.”

Mr. Merkouris has noticed fewer students enrolled in Astronomy. “Just the fact that we went from 2 sections last year and how many years to 1 this year. You want everybody to know about all the classes and be able to choose their electives that best fit them, but it seems like it’s difficult to get everybody to see all these things.” 

According to the course catalog, Astronomy offers students the opportunity to study the solar system, stars, galaxies, and interstellar bodies. This course introduces the use of astronomical instruments and explores theories regarding the origin and evolution of the universe, space, and time.

An astronomy bulletin board in the south building, showcasing key ideas form the elective course.

But, as Mr. Merkouris explained, Astronomy is a flexible class with much more discussion about recent explorations and discoveries. 

“It’s nice to teach a class that is an elective, you choose to take it. That means the students will walk in the door already being interested in the topics. And plus, we’re always getting new discoveries. But, these are things in the news that people get excited over. In astronomy, we don’t have a set curriculum. Being an elective, we can kinda tweak the curriculum based on what is going on and people’s interests,” Mr. Merkouris explains.

And yet, enrollment is still decreasing as less people know that Sandburg offers these various classes. Communication between counselors and students is important, but communication between students is also an important factor. 

“If people are interested and they just don’t know, then that’s a different story. In some respects, I almost depend upon students to spread the word if they liked [the class] because they always trust each other.”

Throughout the school, students walk past classes they don’t realize that have a lot of benefits and opportunities. But, there is never a better time than now to take up the chance to explore Sandburg’s various courses in order to prosper in the future.

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