A Look into the New Classes at ORHS 

Do you have a free period that feels unnecessary? Are you a freshman who doesn’t know what English class you want to take next year? Do you need to fill an elective requirement? Do none of the current classes interest you?  

     Don’t worry, every year new classes are added or introduced. Here are the new classes that were added this year, and a brief background into why they were created and the topics they cover.  

Monsters, Magic and Mythic Figures – 1 year class 

     This is one of the 10th grade English classes, taught by Jennifer Weeks, Alex Eustace, and Maggie Trier, that replaced Sophomore Seminar this year. Sophomore Seminar was a mandatory class for Sophomores that was created with a more reading focus, as the 2nd semester would be Journalism 1 or Expository. It was thrown together quickly, so they didn’t have a clear theme in mind.  

     Then at the start of last year, the English teachers got together and brainstormed classes that were “interesting, engaging, and uniquely sophomore, not something that was more like an extension,” according to Weeks. They wanted to use traditional literature connecting to these topics, resulting in Monsters and Mythic Figures like Frankenstein and The Great Gatsby, but they also wanted to include the fantasy genre, since there was not already a class relating to it.  

Voices and Visions in Literature – 1 year class 

     Voices and Visions in Literature is the other 10th grade English class, taught by Kara Sullivan and Corey Blais. The course focuses on contemporary literature on current issues. The topics generally covered are inclusion, mental health, immigration, and also a topic the students themselves can choose. Using literature on these topics, Blais says students can learn how they can approach these topics as well. “A lot of the characters in the books we’re looking at, they’re not only looking at societal issues, but the characters have their own approaches for dealing with those societal issues, and us talking about this is going to help us think about how we can approach these issues.” Additionally, students will also write for New York Times competitions, including the Memoir and Editorial contests. 

Calculus – 1 year class 

     Calculus is a Running Start class taught by Vivian Jablonski. It covers what would be covered in a 1st semester college calculus class, or what would be covered in AP Calculus AB. Many students who take this class are interested in calculus, however they do not want to take the AP test. Some of these students are already taking AP classes and didn’t want the immense workload. “Some of the students in my class this year are also taking AP Stats, so they didn’t want to have two AP classes. I also have a few students who weren’t sure if they wanted to continue with math in college, but they did want to take another math class.” Despite not being AP, you can still get college credit in this class through the Running Start program. 

AP Physics 2 – 1 year class 

     AP Physics 2, taught by Jim Thibault, is an extension of the AP Physics curriculum including fluids, optics, thermodynamics, and more. “Energy is largely the umbrella of AP [Physics] 1, and [AP Physics 2] is largely looking at other forms of energy or other things related to forces that are not in the 1st semester course,” said Thibault.  

     A couple years ago, AP Physics 1 and 2 were a combined class which would be taught during Blue and White day; however, the school removed it from the curriculum. It was recently reintroduced because of the increasing popularity with AP Physics 1 in the past years. AP Physics 2 is for students who are interested in physics and would like to continue learning it. The prerequisite is AP Physics 1.  

Songwriting – ½ year class 

     Songwriting is a semester long class taught by Marc LaForce. Songwriting serves as another music offering for people who don’t want to do Chorus or Orchestra. Songwriting is more focused on the parts of music, like chorus, verses, lyrics, however rhythm and notes are still a big part of the class. In this class, you will learn basic music theory, form, and even dissecting popular songs to see why they are popular. Mostly though, you will spend your time on writing songs. If you want to learn to write songs, or if you already wrote songs and just want guidance, this class is for you. However, it is helpful to have some music experience (i.e. note and rhythm reading) before taking this class.  

Music Production – ½ year class 

     Music Production, also a semester long class, is also taught by LaForce. The class uses a sequencing program to create music, but it also goes over basic music theory, similar to Songwriting. So, what’s the difference? LaForce describes Music Production as “fiddling around with different instrumentations, different drum sounds, bass sounds, whereas songwriting is more nuts and bolts about focusing more on songs itself, and less about the instruments around it.” No musical experience is required for this class.  

Global Diplomacy and the United Nations – ½ year class 

     This is a reintroduced class taught by Gabrielle Anderson. The premise of the class is global diplomacy and the United Nations, and the tactics that diplomats use taught through simulations of the UN. In the class, there would be a situation, which could be real or imaginary, and the students would take the role of a country in the UN and act how that country would respond to the situation.  

      “Any simulation we’re doing, there’s the topic and then there’s the country which you’re representing and their viewpoint. Really the idea here is that this is how things work, this is how they solve issues or don’t solve issues and getting students to have a better understanding of how decisions are made,” says Anderson. Along with this, students get to pick what they want to do and what situations to reenact. One great thing about this class is it is offered to 9-12th graders, giving underclassman more choice in electives.  

     These classes add more to the wide variety of classes at ORHS. If you would like to learn more about any of these classes, ask the teachers who teach the class listed above.