By Andrea Leung
As the first semester is coming to an end, students and staff prepare for course selection. Every year around February, students are given about two weeks to choose their classes for the next year.
This past year, Alameda High School added the new class AP Chemistry, which many students opted to take rather than classes like the existing Honors Chemistry and AP Physics. According to counselors and AHS principal Robert Ithurburn, it is up to the district administration to choose which classes to cancel and which to introduce.
In the 2016-2017 school year, students will have the opportunity to take the new or revived courses Creative Writing, regular Environmental Science (in addition to AP), Body Sculpting, and Contemporary Dance 3, much to the joy of many. New potential courses are proposed every year by both administration and teachers interested in including them on the curriculum list.
The district is also responsible for reporting to each school how many “sections,” or periods of any class, can be offered every year. Struggling to advocate for more, Ithurburn has already secured 307 sections for the school and is waiting to hear back on more. That translates to 307 periods of any subject at our school, whether it be English 1 or AP Physics.
Because section numbers are so limited, it is crucial for there to be enough students to fill a section of any new class, according to AHS counselors. Without numbers close to 35, the student limit for a classroom, potential courses will not be considered for the upcoming school year. The administration has been trying for three years to make Body Sculpting an offered course, but so far, not enough people have signed up.
However, for the first time, AHS offered AP Chemistry in 2015-2016 as an alternative to other science classes; enough students signed up to fill two periods, proving AP Chem to be a very popular option.
In the past, Creative Writing was taken off the list because of lack of interest and budget cuts. Alameda has experienced several budget cuts in recent years, and these have affected not only the students, but also the teachers.
Seniors Megan Nguyen and Dohyun Kim both expressed desire to take Creative Writing. This gradual trend of adding new classes to the course selection list has been beneficial to students, as they can take courses in their specific fields of interest. Language courses like Vietnamese and Latin are courses that would have been “great additions” to our existing list, according to Nguyen. Because of his special interest in mechanics and engineering, Kim would have “loved” to take a robotics class.
Note to potential AP students: the administration will be making it more difficult for students who enroll in AP classes to drop them after May. Students who enroll in a class and drop it later create an imbalance in the number of students in each class. If administrators know that early enough, they can reallocate which courses they offer. “We could have built another section,” said Ithurburn about the vacancies created when students drop a class. There will also be a limited number of spots in the regular alternates of these AP subjects, because some spots must be appropriated for the “25 to 30” new seniors who enter mid school year.