New classes to be added next year

Juliana Moraes-Liu, Author


Intro to Auto will be offered next year for freshmen. Additionally, Conceptual Physics and Sports Nutrition will be added to Paly’s course offerings, and a Graphic Design class is under consideration.

– Juliana Moraes-Liu

Registration for 2012-2013 classes is coming up soon, and Palo Alto High School is making some changes to its course offerings, according to the administration.

Conceptual Physics, Sports Nutrition and Intro to Auto are confirmed additions to the next year. Graphic Design is still being considered.

The Science Department will be changing its course offering for freshmen. Conceptual Physics will replace Integrated Science, a class that has been offered for four years at Paly and currently has three classes of enrolled students.

The curriculum for Conceptual Physics will vary from that of Integrated Science, focusing on only physics instead of surveying all three major sciences.

“Conceptual Physics will explore only physics concepts whereas Integrated Science explores and integrates physics, chemistry and biology concepts,” Science Department Instructional Supervisor Michelle Steingart said.

By focusing only on physics, the class has been able to receive UC A-G approval, a feat which Integrated Science was unable to do.

“Because Conceptual Physics will only cover one subject area instead of integrating three, it will be a UC “D” lab science course,” Steingart said. “Colleges encourage students to take at least two UC “D” lab science courses during high school.”

The administration believes this UC A-G approval is very important.

“It [Conceptual Physics] sets our students up to be successful from the time they get to Paly,” Principal Phil Winston said. “They can take that [Conceptual Physics] and then take bio and chem and be UC eligible.” 

The Conceptual Physics class and its UC A-G approval have been brought up at meetings regarding the UC A-G graduation requirements for Paly, according to Winston.

Sports Nutrition, taught by teacher Theresa McDermott, will be another new addition to the Paly curriculum.

“This class is designed to empower students to gain the knowledge needed to create delicious and nutritious snacks and meals,” McDermott said.  “Studies have shown that we all choose foods that taste good to us. So one of the primary goals of the class is to have students discover and learn how to prepare foods that are both good for one’s health and energy levels, and also taste fantastic.”

Both student-athletes and non-athletes are encouraged to sign up for the class, according to McDermott.

“The class is open to all students who want to learn how to make delicious and nutritious food that can best fuel their bodies and minds,” McDermott said.  

To be eligible, students must have either taken a year of Home Economics in middle school or have completed a semester of a foods class at Paly, according to McDermott.

Sports Nutrition has not yet received University of California A-G approval — meaning that it is not evaluated by UCs in their college admissions process — but McDermott believes that the UCs will eventually approve the class.

Intro to Auto, which will be taught by Doyle Knight, is another addition to the Paly curriculum and is targeted for freshmen.

“This is not a class for sophomores through seniors,” Knight said. “I have had so many kids over the years tell me they wish they could have taken auto when they were a freshman.  Now I have set up a class that is safe yet still active for younger kids.”

Unlike the auto courses already offered at Paly, Intro to Auto will be focused on students who do not have their licenses.

“The other Auto Classes are geared towards students who have their license or are close to getting one,” Knight said.  “[It will] give the students a fun, hands-on class sooner.”

The Intro to Auto curriculum will focus on the mechanics behind automobiles.

“[In] one of the labs, we will be tearing down an engine and putting it back together,” Knight said. “The other labs are set up so the students learn how each system in the car works and work together.”

Students who take Intro to Auto will be eligible to take Auto for four years at Paly, according to Knight.

Graphic Design is a potential addition to the Paly curriculum and will fulfill the UC “F” requirement.

“Graphic design was not offered as a digital art form before now,” art teacher Kate McKenzie said. “I hope the class takes off and that students in this Silicon Valley school gain an opportunity to engage in digital art, probably the most commonly used art form for visual communication today.”

If added to Paly’s course offerings, Graphic Design will be taught by Steven Ferrera.

“Mr. Ferrera comes to us with college level computer design teaching experience,” McKenzie said. “We think he will do a terrific job.”

The class will cover a broad range of graphic design material.

“Graphic Design is an introduction to the skills, concepts, aesthetics, psychology and careers associated with the field of graphic arts,” Ferrera said.

Paly will not be removing any classes from its curriculum, according to  Assistant Principal Kathleen Laurence.