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New academic developments at PRHS


New courses are being offered beginning the next school year

[dropcap size=big]There are several new developments coming to course offerings, including five new courses. Students are actively choosing classes and meeting with counselors for the 2018-2019 school year. New offerings for next year include:

Science Academy 3

AP Environmental Science

EAP Senior Math

Pop Music Performance

History of Blues, Jazz, Rock, and Pop


SCIENCE: Science Academy 3:

The intention of Science Academy was to combine multiple standards into a single science course.

“The goal was to take the new standards, the next generation science standards that had been put forth by the government, and to rework our system come up with a new course that fits those standards,” according to Susanna Real, who is going on her third year of teaching at Paso High as a freshman teacher of Science Academy 1. Science Academy (S.A.) 3 was developed to expand on the previous years of S.A, but is adapted more toward students who are drawing nearer to graduation.

“It has more independent projects, and it’s geared more toward the last few years of high school with students doing things independently and helping them develop better skills,” Real said.


SCIENCE: AP Environmental Science:

AP Environmental Science is intended to educate another generation of students about human impact on the ecosystem. There is a broad range of sciences studied in this course.  

“It encompasses many topics, so there would be some chemistry and some physics, quite a bit of biology and ecology then there’s also a lot of social science involved in environmental science there’s politics and economics, and there’s psychology. It’s just very holistic and broad and that’s the neat thing about environmental science is that it’s not focused on one particular thing,” said Mark Dimaggio.

However, there are two major differences between the new AP Environmental Science course and the existing Geo course. Geo is dual enrollment course, meaning that, even if one takes it in high school, they will still receive college credit. Also, Geo involves a large outdoor component of backpacking, hiking, and an end-of-the-year trip to Zion National Park, which is not a part of the AP Environmental Science’s curriculum.


MATH: EAP Senior Math:

EAP Senior Math is intended to prepare students for the EAP, or Early Assessment Program,  that they might not have to take intermedial math in college. It is also an alternative to Pre-Calculus for seniors. Yet, there is still a desire for even more alternatives for students pursuing vocations.

“I personally would like to see more alternatives for students in pathways such as Ag or CTE. I really do believe we should expand our offerings instead of Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 and Pre-calculus. These courses don’t fit all students, particularly those who aren’t going to go directly into a university,” said Clark Kerr, who has taught math classes ranging from Algebra 1 to Algebra 2 at Paso High for 29 years.



VAPA: Pop Music Performance:

As one of two alternatives to band, Pop Music Performance is a course intending to sharpen a student’s music skills as they learn to perform with and for their peers.

“It functions as a bunch of little rock bands. It’s a very cool class. All the students in the course will perform with each other in different situations. They can be writing their own music or covering tunes that are out there,” said Kevin Mcdonald, the band teacher and prospective teacher of the two new music courses.

Any student of any musical level is welcome, as there will be training and partnerships fit according to each person’s skill set. The course has several goals in growing students’ skills and teaching them to perform before and with their peers.

“My goals for the students at the beginning will be that they come with a positive attitude, that whatever their skill set is that if they come in excited about making music and working with their peers in a teamwork environment. My goals for over the course of the year would be that they would expand their musicianship, pushing themselves out of their comfort zone, trying new things in a safe setting with their peers where they can grow musically and maintain or expand their passion for music and skills,” McDonald said.


VAPA: History of Blues, Jazz, Rock, and Pop:

The second alternative to Pop Music Performance is a class designed more for students who would rather not perform, but love music and would like to learn more about it. There will be a focus on class discussions and critical thinking, as well as a large amount of time spent on the actual of listening of different music styles.

“There are a lot of students that love music but don’t feel like they can perform, so this is designed to give them an outlet in order to better understand music that they love without the pressure of a performance looming over their head. It’s for students that maybe really love music but have anxiety about performing; this is a great class for them. For students that feel like they could get up on stage but would rather learn more about the music itself, this is a good class for them. There is no performance requirement; it’s purely academic. But it’s very involved and requires in-class discussion and critical thinking. The idea behind it is for students that want a music class but don’t necessarily want to perform or learn an instrument,” McDonald said.



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