by Amy Salomon-Kohn, Director of College Guidance
There are many things that students look forward to about high school, including more independence and more choice. Choice plays an integral part of the MMFS upper school curriculum, especially when it comes to electives. As freshmen, students get to choose the second language they study, either American Sign Language or Spanish. MMFS has students who delve deeply into these subjects. Some have had internships at schools for the deaf while others have done study abroad programs in Spanish-speaking countries. Similarly, from 9th grade on, students choose from a wide array of arts electives. As a school that values the arts highly, our arts program offers classes in both the visual and performing arts. These classes prepare many MMFS students to pursue arts programs in college. Next fall, for example, we will have students studying stage management, film, photography, woodworking, and the visual arts, to name a few.
The science and social studies departments offer a wide variety of classes for students to choose from as well. Just as they will in college, seniors (and occasionally a junior) are allowed to pick courses in these subjects based on their interests and passions. This year, the science department offered Forensic Science, Ecology and Evolution, and Neuroscience and Genetics. The social studies electives for the 2015-16 school year are Criminal Law, Social Identity, Empires, and International Relations. These courses are exciting for students and also offer MMFS faculty the chance to teach specialized areas of interest to them.
Electives encourage students to take risks, spark new interests, and introduce possible career paths. They are often among the classes students love most of all. As Linus Jakobson, a current MMFS senior enrolled in Mary De Louise’s Criminal Law class, explained, “Currently, we are going over the penal code for different crimes in preparation for an exam. The overarching theme of the class is what the laws are and how someone could be culpable of violating these laws. The class is mostly discussion-based, where Mary presents a situation, and the students discuss their opinions; then, we go over the laws behind it. It is hands down my favorite course of all the ones I have taken in high school.” Our goal in offering students a choice of electives–as is the goal of everything we do–is to encourage them to take ownership of their education in the hopes that they will become active, lifelong learners.