Published in the December 23, 2015 edition


WAKEFIELD — Students at Wakefield Memorial High School will be expected to complete their course selections for the 2016-2017 school year prior to the February school vacation and last night Principal Rich Metropolis and Director of Guidance A.J. Beebe reviewed with the School Committee proposed changes to next year’s program of studies at the town’s flagship school.
Once department heads have tallies of enrollment numbers for various courses, Beebe told the School Committee, decisions will be made in consultation with the school administration and the process of building the master schedule can begin.
Beebe said that the Guidance Department meets with all students in grades 8 to 11 to assist them with their course selection. He said that eighth graders, who will be entering the high school next September, have a particularly busy schedule and will have a chance to consult multiple sources.
High school guidance staff will visit with eighth graders on Jan. 7, Beebe said, and those students will have several opportunities to tour the high school in January, courtesy of the Student Council. They are also invited to attend the Academic Pride Night on Jan. 28.
Beebe said that Galvin eighth graders will be selecting their freshman classes on Feb. 4 at the Galvin with the assistance of the Galvin and the high school Guidance staff.
Metropolis then reviewed the changes to the program of studies at the high school for the 2016-2017 academic year.
In the Business, Technology and Culinary Arts Department, a new “Computer Science Applications” course will be added, Metropolis told the School Committee. The course will be a new prerequisite for taking AP Computer Science.
Metropolis talked about a new elective course offering in the English Language Arts Department called “Dark Days of Future Past.” The course will offer students in all grades a chance to explore, analyze and compare gothic and dystopian fiction.
In the World languages Department, Metropolis said that the school planned to expand its Latin offerings by adding two new courses including Advanced Placement Latin.
In the Science Department, the school will be dropping the ninth grade Physical Science course, Metropolis said, and all freshmen will start with Biology. This, he said, will give students the opportunity to take four science lab courses during their time at the High School. In addition, a new AP Environmental Science course has been added for grades 11 and 12.
Metropolis also described several changes to the Performing Arts offerings, including an added Treble Choir class as a full-year elective to run in conjunction with Chorale.
In the Health and Wellness Department, Metropolis said that a new “Health Issues II” elective will be added. He said that the topics would be a little more mature and would give students the opportunity to learn more about making healthy choices as they enter a more independent sphere of their lives.
School Committee member Rob Tiro said that he was happy to see the AP courses and asked if taking the AP exam would be an integral part of the course.
Metropolis said that students are urged to take the AP exam but he acknowledge that while it was originally billed as a way to earn college credit at the high school level, it doesn’t always work out that way. Beebe added that students are not required to take exams for all of the AP courses they are taking if they don’t wish to.
School Committee member Thomas Markham said that he was happy to see the expanded Latin offerings.
School Committee member Greg Liakos asked if there was any thought given to offering languages outside the Romance languages, such as Chinese. Metropolis said that it would certainly be worth exploring but added that is does present challenges in finding teachers who are also able to teach other languages.
In other business last night, the School Committee:
• Accepted a gift in the amount of $4,000 from the Boys’ Soccer Team Boosters intended to pay for four assistant coaches.
• Accepted a gift of $1,700 from Marguerite Maloney and family for the purchase an additional automated external defibrillator unit for the Galvin Middle School. The gift was given in memory of the late Walter V. Maloney who was Wakefield’s Fire Chief for many years.