Changes are made to G-AHS curriculum

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

STEM has just picked up STEAM.

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs at Greencastle-Antrim High School will be enhanced with an Art focus beginning with the 2016-17 school year.

Ed Rife, high school principal, explained the progressive changes designed to equip students for the 21st century at the Jan. 21 school board worksession. The classes have been expanded and altered to concentrate on visual arts, engineering and design, and technology and innovation.

With a team of teachers assisting, the administration created new courses that incorporated the key concepts of the current offerings. They will be available to incoming ninth graders, and allow the older students to slide right in to the curriculum.

While other changes were also planned for the academic program, “This is the big one,” Rife said.

Art instructor Alex Miller said, “What’s so cool is this doesn’t feel top down from the state, but bottom up from our passion. We love this. It is based on how kids learn. In these courses, it is ‘How can you come up with an idea, develop it, and reflect on it?’” 

The classes are layered as foundational, prerequisite to studio level courses,  which then lead to AP classes.

If the school board approves the proposed changes at the Feb. 4 meeting, the schedule will be posted on the district website the next day, so students and their parents can start planning their schedules.

STEAM classes

Currently G-AHS students may take Exploring the Visual Arts; Art 1, 2, 3; Ceramics & Sculpture 1, 2; and Digital Cam 1, 2, 3. Those are shifting into Photography & Digital Design, Art Foundations, and 3D Design & Ceramics. The second level classes are Art Studio, 3D Design & Ceramics Studio, and Industrial Studio. The final class is Art Portfolio, an intensive seminar to create individualized and original work. A longterm goal is AP Art.

Another block of classes has been Mechanical 1, 2, 3; Architectural Engineering 1, 2; and Applied Tech 1, 2, 3. This will transition to Engineering & Design, and Applied Technology. The  studio tier will be Industrial; Engineering & Design; Transportation, Energy & Power; and Manufacturing & Innovation.  Eventually the school wants Robotics.

The newest classes do not have predecessors. The Technology & Innovation component will start with Multimedia Communication, Digital Citizenship, and Whizdom Works. At the next level students can take Occupations in Technology, and at a later point, AP Computer Science.

Rife is ready for the broadened STEAM landscape.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity for our students.”

Other  new courses

The music department will add three half credit electives — techniques in brass, woodwind and percussion. That will give Concert Band students a choice to advance their craft without getting pulled from class for lessons.

The social studies department wants new honors classes in United States History and World History. Rife said these would prepare students for AP courses.

In the English department, Photojournalism will replace Journalism II, to better reflect what is already taught.

— By PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot