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The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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New classes add flavor to Paly curriculum


Eric Olah helps a student during Marine Biology.  The class is being offered this year for the first time.

– Nolan Perla-Ward

Students at Palo Alto High School now have even more classes to choose from, thanks to a host of new classes available for the first time this year.

Three new classes—Biology 1AC, Marine Biology, and Escape Literature—join the list of available classes for the 2011-2012 school year.

Biology 1AC caters to students who are interested in a more accelerated science class, according to Nicole Loomis, who along with Elizabeth Brimhall and Michelle Oshea teach the class.

Loomis discussed the difference between the regular lane of Biology 1A and Biology 1AC for freshmen students. 

“[Biology 1AC] provide[s] a more challenging experience for freshmen who have demonstrated a genuine interest in science and tend to work at a faster pace,” Loomis said. 

Loomis also noted that taking Biology 1AC would prepare students for the SAT II in the same subject.

Eric Olah teaches Marine Biology, a new class offered to juniors and seniors.

Olah noted that his extensive experience in the field of Marine Biology makes him an ideal teacher for the class.

“I was a marine biology major at [University of California] Santa Cruz so it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Olah said of teaching Marine Biology. “From when I was hired here, [the administration] wanted to start an upper division life science that was non-AP.”

The class will cover a wide array of subjects relating to the ocean.

“[The class covers] everything related to life in the ocean, everything living, [including] plants” Olah said.

Senior Ethan Mellberg enjoys the new class and recommends it to other students.

“I took the class because I wanted to learn more about life in the ocean” Mellberg said. “I think it is an awesome class, and everybody who likes water should take it”.

Escape Literature, taught by Erin Angell, is also a new class available for Juniors and Seniors

“At Paly, we have an opportunity to pursue approval of different electives,” Angell said. “Every now and then teachers take a shine to a topic and decide to formulate a class around it.”

According to Angell, the idea for the class had been talked about in the English department for a while, but it was only this year that they were able to introduce the class. 

Angell made clear that Escape Literature focuses on science fiction books and not the traditional English classics.

“We focus on the classics of science fiction rather than the classics of Western literature,” Angell said. 

Angell seems pleased with the way the class has been going for the first two weeks of the school year.

“I think it’s off to a fantastic start,” Angell said. “The students are awesome and I’m really excited to be working with them. They’re so enthusiastic. It seems like people are having fun.” 

Principle Phil Winston has high hopes for the new classes. 

“I think we have an obligation to keep school interesting,” Winston said.  “My hope and vision is that we continue to add more diverse and interesting subjects on campus, particularly in English and some of our other subjects. There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun at school.”

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