The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN
  • New Classes
    • Drawing/Painting
    • Sports Writing
    • Design and Build
    • Eco-writing
    • Calculus
    • Biomed III
    • AP Sciences
    • AP Macroeconomics

BSM introduces new classes to its curriculum

Every year the curriculum changes with new teachers and student interests. BSM teachers share the new classes that they're adding to BSM for next year.

February 12, 2017

Drawing and Painting

Drawing and Painting, while not new to BSM, will now be combined into one class, offering new flexibility to a class that once combined multiple levels of art skill into one. “What happened is a lot of art classes are taught with multiple levels in each room. Last year, [art teachers Ms. Nan Onkka and Ms. Leah Klister] tried teaching all the Painting and Drawing classes together, actually six different levels in the same class, which was kind of crazy,” art department chair Ms. Kelli Rahn said.

Moving forward, these classes will be combined so that Painting and Drawing students can move up the levels with other students of their own skill level. “What we’re doing, going forward, is merging painting and drawing. Students who sign up for that will be signing up for a little bit of both mediums, rather than one,” Rahn said.

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Sports Writing

Sports writing will be a one-semester class available to seniors which will focus on different styles of writing with a sports focus. “The Sports Writing class is a step up from Advanced Composition, so it’ll look at all the same writing skills. Students will probably be writing game recaps, player profiles, sports narratives, as well as sports commentary and persuasive pieces,” English teacher Ms. Kari Koshiol said.

The hope is that the class will fulfill a more diverse student interest, honing writing skills while engaging students in a topic they are interested in. “Sports writing encourages students to write specifically in that sports area, which some students like, and there are all sorts of things that you can do with those skills,” English department head Mr. Tom Backen said.

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3D Make it Design and Build

Open to all students who have fulfilled their art requirement for Art and Design, 3D Make It Design and Build uses “engineering, problem-solving, creativity and curiosity,” Skinner said. The class seeks to prepare for the future of BSM’s curriculum that engages students on a different level, dubbed ‘BSM 2020.’ “There’s a lot of talk in trends with what they call a ‘maker space,’ with 3D printers, and supplies and materials for students to create things… really, we want students to know how to use it,” art department chair Ms. Kelli Rahn said. “We hope that students can start to talk about the design process in the third dimension, going through different mediums.”

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Eco-writing

Eco writing, spearheaded by senior high English teacher Ms. Katie Belanger and junior high English and math teacher Ms. Kristin Gilbertson will be a summer elective course that is open to grades 10, 11, and 12. “[The class is] an intensive environmental and adventure study. It’s for students who love both writing and the outdoors, and who want to combine those two things,” Belanger said. The elective course will be unique from all other classes in that it will be held exclusively over the summer. “Seniors can take it as one of their English classes, freeing up other things here during the regular school year,” English department head Mr. Tom Backen said.

Finally, the class culminates with a special experience for students up north with their classmates. “All of this prep work, reading nature writing, talking about it, and going for hikes, exploring it through our writing, will come together with a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters from July 7 to July 15, which will be led by the Lake Trails Base Camp out of Oak Island, Minnesota,” Belanger said.

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Calculus

Math students who are on track to take AP Calculus AB or BC often opt instead to take AP Statistics, in hopes of averting AP rigor on top of the challenge of calculus. However, with the new school year comes a new option of a regular Calculus course. “[The course] doesn’t have to follow the AP curriculum, which is pre-approved by the college board,” math teacher Ms. Mary Seppala said.

Ultimately, the goal of adding a regular Calculus course is to give students a head start before college Calculus. “It’ll be the same material, but delivered in a way that’s easier to manage… and [students] don’t have to take the AP test at the end, which means they can spend more time on harder concepts, and it can be tailored to the individual student,” Seppala said.

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Biomedical Sciences III

For next year’s incoming seniors, the popular Biomedical Science I and II classes will be continued with a brand-new Biomed III option. “[Biomed III] focuses on this concept of collaborative research,” Skinner said

Biomed III will be supervised by Engineering teacher Ms. Kirsten Hoogenakker, though the class will be predominantly independently run by the students. “It’s totally dependent on the type of research questions that students ask…students will be asking an academic research question, just like running your own mini-lab for the year. At the end of the school year, we’ll have a poster symposium, so it gives students experience with what academic research looks, which should give them a leg up for finding research once they get into college,” Hoogenakker said.

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AP Physics & AP Chemistry

By the 2018-2019 school year, juniors and seniors will be offered AP science classes for the first time since AP Biology was cut from the curriculum in 2015. “Not for this coming school year, but for the following school year, we are planning on changing Honors Chemistry and Honors Physics to AP Chemistry and AP Physics,” Science department chair Ms. Lindsey Novak said.

Currently, Honors Chemistry and Honors Physics are accelerated versions of the regular classes, but the plan is for science teachers to go through AP training so that they can teach the classes and prepare students for the AP exam. “So, really, we’re just jumping over to that AP curriculum, which has certain activities and labs and tests that need to be followed,” Novak said.

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AP Microeconomics

For next year’s senior class, a new social studies elective will be offered: AP Microeconomics. According to the AP website, AP Microeconomics “places particular emphasis on the study of national income and price-level determination; it also develops students’ familiarity with economic performance measures, the financial sector, stabilization policies, economic growth, and international economics.” AP Microeconomics will be taught by Mr. Jeff Fix, and while it is not a new class to BSM, it is being brought back for the first time in many years. “I think students can most look forward to a class that is engaging and is pretty hands-on when it comes to learning the curriculum.  The class will also lend itself to a lot of discussion about economic concepts and principles,” Fix said.

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