Lake Oswego School District adds 17 high-level courses to its list of electives
Students in the Lake Oswego School District will be able to choose from 17 new courses at the middle schools and high schools in 2019-20, thanks to proposals made by teachers and approved by the School Board last month to create more high-level learning opportunities.
"All of the courses are part of a plan to increase STEM opportunities, to build Grade 13 opportunities, to increase classes for our Spanish immersion students and, ultimately, to expand our CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs," said Lou Bailey, the district's executive director of secondary programs.
Bailey said he and Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Schiele have been working to increase course offerings in those areas in order to better prepare students for life after graduation — and to keep them engaged throughout all four years of high school.
"You want to add courses to keep your seniors in school, so they don't have as many early releases or late starts," Bailey said. "We are adding courses without dropping courses. We want to add high-interest elective courses that they'll say, 'I'll do that instead of going home.'"
Schiele said the district wants to expose students to opportunities in a way that is valuable and not overburdening.
"Our students are so busy right now that it's going to take a lot of planning to make sure that it's not overwhelming for them, in addition to their coursework," she said. "But the more we can expose our students to opportunities for them, the better."
Of the 17 new courses, 13 will be offered to high school students at both Lakeridge and LOHS, regardless of where the classes are based. Schiele said that was important to "ensure that our courses were being offered to be forecasted for at both schools."
"We did meet with the high school assistant principals and principals again to ensure that they were on that list, so that students can see what those courses are that are offered at the other school," she said.
The new courses include: Advanced Foods: Entrepreneurship; AP Computer Science Principles; AP Spanish Literature; Argument, Analysis and Presentation; Chemistry; Civilization and Culture of the Speaking World — PSU Challenge; Criminal Justice; Graphic Design; Introduction to Philosophy; Luscher School-to-Farm Advanced Internship; Photography 3; Physics; and Studio/Music Production.
"Perhaps the most important skill students can learn is the ability to think rigorously and critically," said LOHS teacher Robyn Rose, who proposed the Argument, Analysis and Presentation course. "Understanding how to present a strong opinion and argument is universal. Not everyone is going to become a lawyer, but it's your responsibility as a reasonable human being to acknowledge all sides of an argument or topic before making a decision. Learning to think well and effectively communicate has far-reaching effects into every aspect of a student's life."
Andrew Duden, an LOHS teacher who spearheaded the School to Farm program at Luscher Farm, said he proposed the Advanced Internship course in order to broaden a popular and beneficial program.
"The Advanced Internship is offered to continue to develop the Career Technical Education programming offered at the high school. This course partners the needs of the district and the city to provide high school students an internship program at Luscher Farm in agricultural education," said Duden. "Advanced interns would be expected to complete an expert project that improves Luscher Farm in some measurable way."
In addition to the courses at the high schools, four new courses were approved at the middle-school level.
At Lakeridge Junior High, students will have the chance to enroll in Stagecraft or Theater Production next fall. Students at both middle schools will benefit from the approval of two STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes: STEM Explorations 1 and 2. These courses were proposed by Kiki Hueneke, a science teacher at LJH; Beckie Plaza, a science teacher at LOJ; and Larry Zurcher, the district's STEM Teacher on Special Assignment.
"This class is a project-based, problem-solving, student-centered learning environment which incorporates personal relevance and intrinsic motivation — essential for higher-order thinking," the teachers explain in their proposal. "This class promotes and requires student responsibility, choice, accountability and reflection in a learning environment which meets every learner at their level."
Bailey told the School Board at its Jan. 28 meeting that while many of the courses will likely be worked into certified CTE pathways, the district is still in the early stages of that process.
"We met with our county CTE coordinator and started doing the paperwork. We have to apply for the pathways, we have to get the teachers certified," he said. "All of that work is going on right now behind the scenes."
Bailey said the district is considering a wide variety of options for how its CTE program will look, but, "my first priority out of the gate is how do we get CTE going at both high schools," he said. "How do we get our own program going, and how do we take programs we're doing at our school and extend them to PCC and PSU. All of those conversations are happening right now."
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