Three new course modifications are being proposed for New Trier High School, and staff are also prepared to study the next decade of academic programming.
The curriculum discussion was held during New Trier’s regular board of education meeting on Monday, Oct. 16, when Peter Tragos, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said this time of the year is when new courses and course modifications are presented to the board for approval in preparation for the spring when students select their classes for the next school year.
He said that this year, all three of the proposed modifications are to existing courses.
One of them is to a new class, urban design, which board members approved in 2022.
Tragos said the proposal would make the class interdisciplinary by combining it with the school’s existing civics class. He said that almost as soon as the course was proposed, the social studies teachers noticed similarities between the curricula.
“This is a course that makes a natural connection between urban development, civic engagement, virtual planning, design, technology, sustainability, geography, sociology, economics, culture,” he said.
Students who take the course in the future reportedly will also receive credit for their civics graduation requirement.
Another proposed new course is new media arts, a revision of the existing freshman media production class that Tragos said has “lacked” enrollment over the past several years.
The proposal will “revitalize” the curriculum by updating it to include digital media.
“New media includes social media and content creation,” Tragos said. “It really meets students where they’re at in experiences, both (in terms of) what they have in their daily lives, but also what’s being taught in our sender schools as well.”
New media arts will be offered as a course students can take the entire school year or just for a semester.
The third course proposal is a level change for the existing leadership in art essentials class, which is currently an elective. The proposed change would reclassify it as an honors-level course.
Tragos said students who take this course essentially act as teacher’s assistants in art classes, helping plan the curriculum and work with students.
Board member Sally Tomlinson said she appreciates that New Trier offers semester-long courses, such as new media arts, as an option for students.
“I hope that we’ll have more of those in the future,” she said.
The board is expected to vote on the new course proposals at its November meeting.
In addition to the new course proposals, Tragos discussed New Trier’s approach to future curriculum planning, which is a goal of New Trier 2030, the district’s strategic plan.
He said the district is looking to design programming for the next decade, which he said will be “more flexible and individualized for student opportunities, student experiences, student uses of time.”
Tragos said the district will be forming a committee to study what future programming will look like and it will include engagement from stakeholders including parents, students and staff. The board will also be updated with any developments.
Board President Keith Dronen asked if that might include offering more language options for the district’s modern and classical languages department.
Tragos said any recommendation on adding another language would be up to the committee.
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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.