Which Electives at Sherwood Have a Future?

by Alex Nnabue ‘18

Sherwood offers a wide range of electives to students. There are approximately 15 in core academic subjects along with a dozen AP offerings and 60 courses in physical education, fine arts, and technology. However, with the vast number of classes, an appearance on the registration card does not guarantee that every elective will meet the 20- 25 threshold of students usually needed to offer a course.

English teacher Christiane Lock lost a full class of Literature as Film for next year, and believes “students, especially seniors, often have room in their schedules to take fun classes with a wide variety of interests.” Electives, such as Film, are promoted by word of mouth as students often favor less demanding classes to maintain a reasonable schedule.

Generally, electives are initially offered on course cards by the request of passionate teachers after they consult with their resource teacher and administration. However, electives are ultimately run on the basis of its popularity amongst students, which varies from year to year, putting less popular ones at risk. Next year, Comparative Religions, Accounting, Entrepreneurship and Business Management, Commercial Art, African-American History, and AP Human Geography will be cut, while others still remain in jeopardy.

Michelle Games currently teaches Comparative Religions, a semester elective that is being cut next year due to low enrollment. “I am disappointed because I got positive feedback about the class since students enjoy the class, learn a lot, and become educated and open to other religions,” said Games, who hopes the elective can run the following year.

To make the decision on whether or not to have an elective class for the upcoming year, the counseling department gathers the preliminary numbers after the registration process is completed in February. The administration then analyzes the computer data and makes decisions based on the number of students signed up and available teachers. Assistant Principal Karen Rose, the school’s “master scheduler,” strives to place approximately 90 percent of students in their desired schedule. “The computer program works for the students and tries to get the best schedule possible,” said Rose. Students are informed of the decisions by counselors before summer break.

Related electives can run under one section, like Theater 1-2, Play Directing, and Advanced Acting, which are combined into one class. “It is hard to differentiate between the different skill levels but higher skilled students help beginners,” said English teacher Christopher Goodrich, who teaches these courses.

Student interests continue to vary, causing the selection of electives to change each year. Decisions are solely based off of popularity and electives have no exams or standard curriculum, so administration and head of departments strive to monitor the instruction by observing and analyzing the grade distribution of the courses.