An English class that combines three previous offerings, an urban design course, an art leadership class and an acting class for beginners are under consideration as new course offerings for New Trier High School students starting in the 2023-2024 school year.
The four new courses, plus 19 other course revisions, were presented to the New Trier Board of Education at its regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 17.
Peter Tragos, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the course changes are the culmination of efforts from teachers and department leaders who continuously look to help students “deepen their learning experiences” and those who are “hoping for new opportunities for exploration.”
The new proposed courses include two in the performing and visual arts departments. Leadership in Art Essentials is an expansion of the existing art essentials course and will be open to students who want to take on a leadership role in that class. Tragos said similar classes already exist in the social studies and kinetic wellness departments.
Introduction to acting will be open to sophomores, juniors and seniors who have little to no experience in stage performance. In his memo to the board, Tragos wrote that current acting classes “are not meeting the needs of those students who have a valid interest in theatre [sic] but few options to explore those interests.” This course will provide students with more opportunities to explore acting.
Urban design and development will replace civil engineering, a course which Tragos said has “lagged” in enrollment. The new offering will provide an updated curriculum, and Tragos said students will see “great, new, relevant hands-on problem solving” around urban planning.
Cultural crossroads in literature combines elements from three longtime senior English classes: humanities, myth and mind, and good and evil in literature. The new English course is part of what Tragos called “major revisions to the senior curriculum and course offerings in the English department.”
Since 2019, he said English teachers have looked at how rising juniors selected their courses for senior year and why those choices were made.
“They set out a road map to respond to student interests and needs and undertake an evaluation of whether or not the course offerings met student needs, interests,” Tragos said, adding that the department also examined whether their senior-level classes met department and district goals.
In addition to the new course, the English department also revised the levels of classes offered to seniors, which puts that department in line with the science and social studies departments, both of which offer a variety of courses for seniors to take. Tragos said this change will reduce the number of classes that only have one or two course sections, which will make staffing and sectioning more efficient.
Additionally, senior English classes will now have a unified focus of world literature.
Other proposed changes include new course titles, additional level changes to existing courses, the art department removing prerequisite classes for its photography curriculum, and juniors being allowed to take AP psychology, which Tragos wrote is the only AP class at New Trier currently not offered to juniors.
Board members are expected to vote on the new course proposals at their November meeting.
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Peter Kaspari is a blogger and a freelance reporter. A 10-year veteran of journalism, he has written for newspapers in both Iowa and Illinois, including spending multiple years covering crime and courts. Most recently, he served as the editor for The Lake Forest Leader. Peter is also a longtime resident of Wilmette and New Trier High School alumnus.