Power to the Seniors: Exploring SJS Electives
One of my favorite parts about being a senior at St. John’s is the freedom we are granted to explore our interests through unique, specialized classes. Students rank their top choices for these elective classes during the spring of junior year, and the grade-wide anticipation builds over the summer as we await the release of our schedules.
Some electives are more popular than others, but I think we can all agree - taking a class because you’re passionate about the subject matter rather than the fact that it’s a graduation requirement makes the learning so much more enjoyable, regardless of its difficulty.
I am someone who consistently dreads science class. Try as I might, I was just not made to be a STEM person, and my biology, chemistry, and physics classes of years past mostly resulted in unwanted stress and bad vibes. In no way was this the result of my teachers’ lesson plans or instructional style. My brain simply doesn’t function in terms of organelles, elements, and forces, which is why I was ecstatic to learn that I was placed in a science course called Scientific Methods and Public Policy for my senior year.
Widely known as the "science for humanities kids," the class covers scientific and technological advancements in the context of the government. After only a week of class, I can tell this elective will be a favorite of mine since it relates to my interest in politics and current events. I’m most excited to learn about climate change and the food and drug industry.
Ainsley Dodson, a classmate of mine and an aspiring educator, elected to enroll in both Neuroscience and Psychology this year.
“Both of these [classes] align with my interest in understanding how education relates to brain science,” Dodson said. “I’m so much more excited to go to class and learn than previous years, even though I’m someone who really enjoys school. The biggest difference is my genuine interest in my elective classes.”
Although learning remotely can be a bummer, seniors are making the most of their school days at home by engaging in their areas of academic interest. The specificity of elective classes makes them resemble college courses, giving us a valuable sense of independence and individuality.
“While it is virtual, I just feel more excited to learn because I am genuinely really really interested and excited for every class I am taking, so it seems more like fun to me rather than work,” said senior Ella Kalapatapu.
Kalapatapu, who hopes to become a pediatric oncologist, has tripled up on science classes. Neuroscience, Organic Chemistry, and Anatomy and Physiology all appear in her schedule.
“There are so many science classes, I had a hard time choosing,” she said.
In addition to the plethora of options for STEM-oriented students, SJS offers a wide variety of social studies courses for seniors to choose from. My semester-long picks were Issues of Justice and Equity in the 21st Century and Religion and Politics in America. As an aspiring journalist, I am excited to gain a deeper understanding of the current and recent events that find a home in our nation’s mainstream media. Although these classes cover topics that appear in the present day, SJS counts them as history credit. Many of these "history" electives were designed with the intent to keep students informed and interested in themes that present themselves in everyday life, such as Economics.
Senior Aiden Manji is taking Data Analytics and Economics this year.
“[These] offered the most practicality; both of the classes have real world application as data analysis and visualization is what many professions, especially those in the financial sector, use frequently,” he said. “Economics is also useful to me in that it offers a take on the current and past standing of economic activity in the world and how different situations change economic outlooks.”
Manji is grateful for the freedom SJS gives its seniors when it comes to their classes, but notes that offering similarly practical classes to underclassmen could also prove beneficial for their high school careers and beyond. Until then, only SJS seniors will hold the privilege of indulging in elective classes that spark creativity, passion, and a deeper understanding of the world around them.
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