Craving Courses

The discovery of one’s dream class can be exciting, accomplished, and desirable. However, what does one do if it is not offered? Currently, Lake Ridge offers various core courses, as well as a wide selection of electives to choose from. However, finding the right class can be a difficult task, especially if what they had in mind is not available. Counselor Ashley Wann explains a way for students to create a class for their discernment, according to Texas education codes.

“When students want to propose a new class, they go up to an executive board made up of members from the district’s curriculum, where they talk about the class they are interested in. It is helpful for the class’s outcome to bring information about the TEKS (Texas Essential Skills) within the class, what types of assignments there would be, and what units would be covered. As long as the class is not too similar to a class already offered, the board can pass it up to the State Board of Education to be approved. However, in order for a new class to be offered, it must be in all the five high schools: Timberview, Lake Ridge, Legacy, Summit, and Mansfield. The exception is that most of the time there is one main course that will pilot the rest as a sort of test run. An example is a class taught on the campus called GT Mentor Seminar, where gifted and talented students independently study a topic of their choice, similarly to a college student researching a thesis. Since the class was popular enough in one high school, it is now taught in all five of the schools,” said Wann.

The prospect of Education has been concurrent throughout the district over the past few years, with many courses being requested to the point where Ben Barber, an elective school, was created in order to fulfill them. Also known as Frontier High School, it has some of the most exclusive courses available for a student to take. For instance, the school holds a variety of medical, creative, automotive, law, and engineering classes like Video Game Design. However, taking a Ben Barber class comes with the price of two blocks out of the limited 8-block schedule. Because of this, senior Saman Saiforoayai believes more languages should be taught not just at Ben Barber, but also at Lake Ridge.

“Although we already have a lot of classes at Lake Ridge, I would like to see other languages offered on campus because we only have Spanish and French currently. Classes like ASL and Latin would be fun and easy to take if it were at school. In general, if we do not end up getting the classes, it would be great if we could just take a test to earn the language credit. My second language is Farsi, so I feel like I should have been able to get that credit instead of having to take two classes of Spanish. I could have used that time for other classes I was interested in. Having more language classes would help accommodate people’s schedules better. Personally, I have a sport every day, which means I cannot have Ben Barber in the afternoons. It would just allow students to be more inclined to try new things instead of worrying so much about credits,” stated Saiforoayai.

That said, Wann addresses the difficulties of integrating a Ben Barber class into one of the main district high schools. “At Lake Ridge only Spanish and French are taught, whereas at Ben Barber you’ve got German, Latin, Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, and ASL. In order for the exclusive classes to be added to the school there must be more than one teacher for the language. So there would have to be five separate German teachers at each school for the class to be taught. We would not need so many if a teacher was willing to travel from one campus to another, which would be extremely difficult for the teacher. All in all, it goes back down to the teachers available and the students interested in the class. There have been multiple classes removed in the past because of lack of course requests in Xello. Since November, counselors like me have been meeting students one on one to go over schedules for next year. If the course does not have at least 23 or 30 students, the class is dropped and kind of fades off into the distance to the point where it is replaced,” said Wann. Once the state of Texas has approved the course, the class has to undertake a few steps to finally be introduced to the school. In the case of Lake Ridge, there have been past classes that have been considered, yet not added, because of certain boundaries. Junior, Nadia Nester, investigates both the positives and the negatives of the possible addition of new classes. “Having new classes would help narrow down what you’re interested in. It also allows you to talk to other people who enjoy the same things you do. Those connections are super valuable. But I just see there being an issue with the size of the school and the limited rooms. Also, the hiring process must be difficult. A lot of classes are already combined, like all the art classes, so if it is barely popular, I do not really see a point in having it. Classes that have future requisites should not be taken away though, because there is already a committed group of students going down that path,” stated Nester.

Since Horace Mann’s educational reform in the 1880s, the importance of education has been valued highly in America. According to edweek, there are currently 50 million students heading into public school in the Fall of 2023. Texas, in particular, has 8,161 public schools that hold 5 million of those students. Sophomore, Zailynn Nesbitt, discovers the preparative purpose within the core of classes, and desires it to be more emphasized in school. “I think new classes should serve as a preparation for life after graduation. Which is why I really want cooking classes to continue to be taught here. They are removing the culinary classes and replacing them with nutrition classes, which I do not really like. I think they are doing that because of Ben Barber. However, I think they should keep offering it because a lot of people adore it. Everyone has to cook for themselves. It is not really sustainable to eat out all the time. So, having a class where you can have hands on cooking is super useful. I also feel like they should have more financial classes because many students graduate without being very financially knowledgeable about fees,” said Nesbitt.

Some individuals find it difficult to transition into adulthood after high school. Junior,  Rachel Nsofor, believes that students would benefit later on if they have the right resources to find a schedule for themselves.

“New and old classes should be advertised more. I feel like nobody really knows about them, so they are just replaced. Popularity of a class really matters, so I want to see more classes actually talked about instead of going under the radar. If there were more classes, it would motivate more students to actually care about their future, because there would be more interest in the class if they found something they like. If there were more classes, it would be more difficult to figure out, so if I could, I would want to have more than 32 blocks in my high school career. Though I cannot really see having more than 8 blocks in a year working,” stated Nsofor.

For many, the mountain that looms over high school is the uncertainties of college, which, in the context of education, directly link to one’s future in an occupation. The experience that an individual gains from high school, perhaps, should not be left to dust, as the purpose that underlies classes is knowledge and self-discovery. Considering which class to take for next school year can most definitely be a struggle, so Wann advises students to take the classes they enjoy, and to simply embrace their academic journey.

“I think 8 blocks is enough, especially with our block scheduling, because I would say you can get a lot more out of deep-diving on four different courses each day rather than spending all day wandering from one class to another. It really gives enough time to teachers to keep students engaged by providing multiple different opportunities during a class period. I recommend students to utilize the course options on our counseling Canvas page, which details the most updated classes offered at Lake Ridge. Xello also details the information needed to take the class, such as the prerequisites. I can imagine it being difficult, because as a high school student, you often have not figured out what you want to do after you graduate. Therefore, having more class options would definitely make it overwhelming and harder. By dipping your toe into a certain class, it can help you discover something you might want to pursue. If it doesn’t help you figure that out, that is okay. It is not like taking a certain class. It locks you into a certain career choice. Students should just choose classes and not try to overwhelm themselves with having to get it all figured out. Take classes you may be interested in and let it drive where you end up later,” said Wann.