MCPS Students Share About Favorite Classes
Currently, MCPS students have to complete 22 required high school courses in order to graduate. However, students are not confined to just taking core classes. Students all over MCPS engage in unique music, financial, technology, and language classes at their schools where they find joy in learning.
Financial literacy classes are growing in MCPS. Last year, the Board of Education voted to make financial literacy a requirement for high school students, but the resolution was not passed. Financial literacy classes still exist as an optional class, and students have expressed interest and enthusiasm in such courses. Michael Gannon, a freshman at Magruder High School studied Principles of Finance, Banking and Credit. The classes taught him “how to keep yourself afloat financially and navigate credit, debit, investing, and insurance, [as well as information] about financial institutions and products they offer, and checking and savings accounts.” The curriculum “opened [his] eyes to the inner workings of the financial world and taught critical financial life skills.”
Some schools offer alternative classes that fulfill a credit requirement by examining traditional core classes through different lenses. Bethesda Chevy Chase High School offers Cultural Studies, a class that fulfills an English requirement. “[The class] takes the core topics and looks at them through a cultural lens. Instead of simply reading a required book, we’ll read it and discuss the historical context of the book, whether it still applies to our culture today, and if MCPS should require the books,” said Phoebe Lewis, a sophomore at BCC, “I love this class because it makes me think in a way school never has before. It gives the opportunity to criticize the culture we have created as a generation, look at things from a totally different perspective, and really focus on learning the things that interest me the most.”
Lots of leaders across MCPS consisting of legislators, student advocates, and teachers are working to diversify the MCPS curriculum so it reflects the backgrounds of all students. Various language classes teach spoken and written language, but often also teach about culture. Ali Shalabi, a junior at Walt Whitman High school who studies Arabic said: “I like this class because it is unique that a public school in America offers it. Also, I am able to use what I learn in class to connect with my Arab family.” Natalie, a junior at Albert Einstein High School on the other hand, studies Japanese. “I really like this class because it's not a very common language and it uses different characters than English. It makes it more interesting and my teacher makes it very engaging,” she said.
Music and arts are a key part of many students’ identity. Most schools offer classes like band, orchestra, and chorus to highlight musical talents of students, but there are four MCPS high schools that offer Show Choir as an elective. Show Choir incorporates student made choreography into each performance. Finding students with a shared interest in a music or art class can make school so much more enjoyable for students. “I love this class because it has such a positive and fun environment and you are able to create tight bonds in the class while still learning,” said Emily Ashman, a sophomore at Walter Johnson High School.
MCPS offers opportunities for students to intern and explore potential careers. Gretchen Gilmore, interns in a kindergarten classroom as part of a class. “It’s reaffirmed my desire to be a teacher… When you decide how you want to positively influence students, you learn a lot about your own priorities and values. I’ve made fantastic connections and challenged myself,” Gretchen reflected on how the class impacted her.
Classes like these that reflect students’ backgrounds and interests are part of what makes education engaging, and it is important for every student in MCPS to have the opportunity to take classes they love.
Written by Allison J. Khani
Published by PR Department