The San Benito High School Board of Trustees recently approved new courses in engineering, game simulation, environmental studies, Spanish, drama improvisation and yoga, according to district staff.
“Each year the district takes a look at courses and course offerings within our course catalog,” said Elaine Klauer, the district’s director of educational services. “We want to ensure that all students have access to a broad course of study. Our goal is to diversify our courses by student interest and continue expanding on our CTE (Career Technical Education) pathways.”
She said the addition of Engineering 2 and Gaming Simulation will add to those technology pathways. The yoga course will count for physical education credit during zero period, which was proposed based on student interest in yoga offerings earlier this year.
Regarding the new Yoga For Personal Fitness class, dance teacher Heather Nichols said, “One of the core goals of physical education is to develop lifelong, healthy habits that students will benefit from for many years after graduation.” The new course will offer students the opportunity to utilize yoga practices to improve their physical and mental health, she said.
The course will be offered from 7:35-8:35am, which Nichols said will allow students “to start their day with a heightened level of mental focus” for the academic classes they have later in the day.
The Drama 3/4 and Improvisation courses were also proposed due to student interest. The Spanish 1 course is designed for heritage language speakers.
Drama teacher Kristen Porter said she knows San Benito students are interested in improvisation because the Academic Focus Time improv sessions she offers are always full.
“It’s filled with current and former drama students and kids who have never taken a drama class,” Porter said. “It’s fun and unique and develops skills that will help anyone in their future—primarily working as part of a team, being creative and thinking quickly. We will work on both comedic and dramatic improvisation, as well as short form and long form. They will also watch and evaluate improvised scenes.”
The Drama 4 class will be for seniors who have been in the program for four years. In the fall semester, they will perform a full-length play, while the students in Drama 3 work on other projects, such as a genre film. In the spring semester, all drama students will work together to develop, write, direct, produce and act in the school’s annual One-Act Festival.
Klauer said that all of the recently approved courses fulfill both graduation and college preparation requirements. “The district strives to ensure that new courses are a-g in order to prepare all students for college and career readiness,” she said.
Assistant Principal Claire Grissom said that she and the school counseling team are “excited for our students to have access to more course options.”
She pointed out that the engineering and game simulation courses, in particular, “will get our students up to date with what is currently going on in the tech industry.”
Grissom said she anticipates that the new courses will have a minimum of one section each in the fall of 2019, with some having more and others limited by the space available to house them.