BSM adopts new classes for the 2013-2014 school year

For the 2013-2014 school year, the administration will be introducing new classes in the art, English, language, math, and science departments.


Chris Bell

English teacher Mr. Tom Backen lectures during his AP Literature class

Stephen Jacobs and Kathleen Meskill

Keeping its rigorous standards, the administration plans to expand the college preparatory curriculum, allowing students to pursue their interests and prepare themselves for collegiate-level material. The new classes allow students to interact in the classroom and have the opportunity to challenge themselves.

The departments primarily aim to analyze their current curriculum and determine whether a new class has student interest and offers a unique experience from any other existing class. Classes added to the 2013-2014 school year seek to allow students to choose more rigorous courses, such as Advanced Spanish 3, or classes that are evermore applicable to our lives, such as forensic science and immigrant literature. “[Forensic science] is a more hands-on, inquiry-based class. Students would be interested in this class because it is different than the other classes already offered,” Senior High Principal Dr. Sue Skinner said.

When thinking of innovative classes, teachers must incorporate the school mission and how it aligns with each department’s sequence. Immigrant literature will include lessons of the social justice of local immigrants, and blended math courses will allow students to self-pace themselves. “Our courses have to be college prep and relate to our catholic program,” Dr. Skinner said.

While the administration aspires to expand the curriculum, everything must also fit in the budget. The newly-added classes achieve this by mostly utilizing current BSM staff, such as the English department dropping a few unpopular classes to add the new classes. The school only a needs a new Chinese teacher. “All of the proposals are pretty budget-neutral,“ Dr. Skinner said.

To get a class approved, the department must first determine the new class they want to offer, outline where it fits into the curriculum and why there is a need for it. The department chairs then have to present the documentation and make an official proposal at the department chair meeting. “Ultimately, it is Dr. Skinner who makes the final approval,” Mrs. Patricia Carlson said.

Many other classes are being added for varying reasons, but mainly so students can keep up with society and challenge themselves. “We wouldn’t be doing our job if we weren’t reviewing what’s constantly being offered. We have to evolve and keep up with the times,” Mrs. Carlson said.

The reformed journalism classes present the most apparent example of classes that allow students to explore interests. Journalism I and II will be expanded to photojournalism, video journalism, editorial leadership, and journalistic writing. This set of classes uses english and art teachers to teach students different forms of journalism and, thus, produce a more professional newspaper and website. “I want students to be able to find their own interests and passions,” Journalism teacher Mr. Jason Wallestad said.

The administration recognizes the need to keep up with our fast-developing world and their responsibility to provide the necessary resources for students to succeed in it.

Classes such as blended math may appeal to self-motivated students while the forensic science class may attract curious students who want to closely study direct applications of science. “The new courses will offer very interesting material and there is much more to them than just the title and description,” Mrs. Carlson said.