The Newberg School District board approved four of the classes, while another is being clarified

Newberg High School hopes to add five new classes to its curriculum next year. Interim Principal Tami Erion presented a proposal at the Jan. 14 school board meeting, getting the board's immediate blessing on four of the five.

The first of the approved courses is called "Geometry and Construction," and it gives students in the Integrated Design Studio (IDS) an opportunity to earn elective and math credits. The course is designed for students who might struggle with the mathematics portion of some of the work done in the IDS.

"It came about from spending two years in a three-period block of our Integrated Design Studio," Erion said. "Our instructors found that it would benefit more students if they broke it down into two double-blocks."

The second course, Native American Studies, is an attempt by the school to improve its elective options in the social studies department.

Erion said that a few years back, social studies electives were "rich" with a variety of cultural courses. That has since been reduced significantly, but she said the school wants to return to the point where it offers a significant number of cultural course options.

"We're looking toward recognizing and appreciating different cultures," Erion said. "We had a desire to bring this elective back and allow students to explore the Native American culture. It's important to have a good understanding of other cultures if you want to be a good citizen and student."

NHS is also planning to institute a credit recovery course for Spanish classes. Erion noted that the Spanish credit recovery course fits in "nicely" with the credit recovery program already in place.

The intent, she said, is to create a course for students who might have struggled with their second required Spanish course.

"With our Newberg High School diploma, students are required to earn 26 credits, and two of those have to be within the same world language," she said. "We're finding that some students are struggling in that second year and so they can take this course and complete it without having to take the entire year over."

The final course approved by the school board Jan. 14 was an audio/visual production class. It will give NHS students the chance to be creative in ways that they haven't been able to in recent years.

According to Erion, it is an example of the school's commitment to Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. The school is able to expand these opportunities thanks in part to grants the district received from the Austin Family Foundation.

"We're really trying to grow our CTE programs and help students explore career interests," Erion said. "Right now, we don't really have much in the arts and communications field, so this is a springboard for us to build that."

Although the school board did not approve it initially, NHS is working on instituting a course on mindfulness, called "Mindful Studies." The board asked for clarification on the standards of the course as well as a concept map of what it might look like, but its importance for students is clear.

"The reason we proposed this course was because we've seen an increased number of students who are coming to us with severe anxiety, depression and other mental health issues," Erion said. "This mindfulness course would be a great opportunity for those students to learn about themselves and learn about how to cope with things."

Erion said she looks forward to the mindfulness course being approved and instituting all five next school year.

"We're just excited about adding more opportunities for kids in whatever capacity we can," she said. "Hopefully our students will be interested in those."

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