HomeBlocksFront-GridLCHS 7/8 Gets Three New Electives

LCHS 7/8 Gets Three New Electives

The La Cañada Unified School District approved three new LCHS 7/8 elective courses in their June 6 meeting, which will be available for students to take in the 2023-24 school year.
LCHS 7/8 Principal Jarrett Gold presented the courses to the Board, which included gardening, social and self-wellness, and sports medicine.
Two of the classes are part of the exploratory wheel that is offered to students who rotate from four different classes, each 10 weeks long. This gives the students the opportunity to experience four different classes in a year.
The gardening class will provide students with a nature-based learning experience that emphasizes hands-on skills, interdisciplinary thinking and creative problem solving through the lenses of ecology and sustainability, according to the course outline.
The garden will function as a “classroom without walls” where students will learn how to grow healthy food, care for the earth and work collaboratively to beautify the school campus through botanical installations and habitat restoration.
This course is only offered to 7th-graders, who do not need prior experience or knowledge of gardening.
“One of the science teachers had a segment on gardening, and my daughter started a garden on our side yard and it’s still growing,” said LCUSD Board member Dan Jeffries, who initially questioned the reasoning behind the segment, but soon realized its merit. “They actually spent a lot of time talking about the science of it. Everything from photosynthesis to water and absorption. It really became a very science-oriented course. I think it’s a great idea.”
Social and self-wellness will also be offered to students in the 7th-grade as a 10-week course.
“It’s kind of like a course I used to teach in L.A., and we called it the life skills course,” said Gold. “This [course] will be along those same lines focusing on mental and social health, with some focus on yoga and things that will help communication, decision making, kindness and goal setting.”
The class is designed to provide students with an understanding of personal well-being and the development of essential social-emotional skills. Through a combination of interactive activities, discussions, yoga and reflective exercises, this course aims to empower students to navigate the challenges of adolescence, build positive relationships, manage stress, and foster a healthy and balanced lifestyle, according to the course outline.
Topics that will be taught during the course include emotional awareness, healthy relationships, stress management and decision making.
“I think these are genius courses, especially health and wellness,” said LCUSD Board President Joe Radabaugh. “It’s an interesting, innovative way to tackle this and give some exposure to new subjects. So, I am a big supporter of both these.”
“The social and self-wellness course feels like a really important course,” said LCUSD Board Vice President Josh Epstein. “I’d love, maybe at the end of the year, if we could get a report back because this feels like something that may be useful for everybody in that 7th- and 8th-grade time.”
The last course that Gold presented was sports medicine which, different from the first two, would be a yearlong course, not connected to the exploratory wheel, and offered to both 7th- and 8th-graders.
Throughout the course, students will learn about the anatomy and physiology of the human body, particularly as it relates to sports and physical activity. They will also learn about common sports injuries, their prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, as well as the role of various medical professionals in the sports medicine team, according to the course outline.
Gold said that the course already has 32 kids signed up, and that the class will take place of the medical biology class they offered.
“I know something probably would encourage me as a 7th- or 8th-grader to take a class to learn more about how the body works, especially when it relates to athletics or sports,” said Gold. “And to be clear, this is a yearlong course that is not part of the wheel. This is a standalone class that is currently full for next year,” he said.


The Board also heard a progress report update from Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Anais Wenn on the ethnic studies course development at LCHS.
“Ethnic studies are the disciplinary study of race, ethnicity and other identities, focusing on people’s lived experiences and perspectives,” she said. “The law requires that students … take one semester of ethnic studies, and schools must offer this course starting in the 2025-2026 school year. Funds have been allocated by the state to design and implement the ethnic studies course and start teaching it during the 2025-2026 school year.”
The district was given two choices to decide if the ethnic studies would work best as a stand-alone course or something that would be imbedded into an existing course and decided to go with the imbedded pathway.
“Administration worked with the teachers considered social science and English as possible options for ethnic studies implementation and came to a conclusion that an English course would be best,” said Wenn.
The English department, after lengthy discussion and analysis, determined that the English 1 course would be the best fit for ethnic studies. Every 9th-grader is required to take the course to graduate from high school, which makes it easier for the department to know that each student will take the course. The current English 1 course focuses on English standards and world literature and will remain the same along with the addition of ethnic studies.
“Learning about the cultures and experiences of their peers would allow students to understand and appreciate them throughout their high school journey and will promote a more inclusive learning environment for all students,” said Wenn.
The instruction of ethnic studies will involve the teaching of four subgroups, African America, Latinx, Asian America and Armenian American. These groups were picked based on the largest groups that represent LCHS.
“Through this course, students from these subgroups will see themselves and their family experiences reflected in the curriculum and will learn about the life experiences of others with different backgrounds,” said Wenn.
The English department met for the last time this school year on May 16 where they discussed general objectives for the course, reviewed a sample syllabus, reading list and resources.
“Five teachers in the department will be teaching the English 1 course next year,” said Wenn. “They will meet during summer to draft the course pacing guide and utilize it to collect feedback from students and families regarding the selected literature. They will continue to refine the course for the next few years and utilize the final version of the course overview and pacing guide in 2025-2026 school year.”
The course is set to pilot in this coming school year, “And after collecting feedback from students and parents, they will make adjustments and continue to improve the course until the final version is shared with the Board and community and adopted in the 2025-26 school year,” said Wenn.
LCHS Principal James Cartnal will be coming back to the Board on Aug. 14 to provide an update on the progress.
“Mr. Cartnal will return at the end of the school year to provide an update on the status of the course, the feedback they collected from students, parents and staff and adjustments, if any, that will be made to the course for the 2024-2025 school year,” said Wenn.
After Wenn gave her report, a LCF resident gave a public comment.
“For me, it is disheartening to know that this plan does not include the Korean American Ethnic studies, despite the Korean American constituting the largest heritage group among LCHS students,” she said. “As a parent within LCUSD, it is important to me that my children have the opportunity to learn about the migrant’s stories of their ancestors. As an educator, my aspiration is for all students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the achievements and contributions made by ethnic minority groups in America, enabling them to appreciate the value these communities bring to our society. As the president of the Korean American parents’ association, I am dedicated to ensuring that our neighbors and their children are knowledgeable about the struggles and contributions of Korean Americans in this country. Southern California is home to a significant population of Korean Americans and their preserved historical monuments and sites in L.A. that serves as education resources.”
She listed various school who are offering Korean American studies to their students, like Anaheim High School and Cypress High School.
“As a dedicated stakeholder in the LCUSD educational system, I kindly request that the School Board ensure that ethnic studies at LCHS aligns with the diverse student demographics in the LCF community,” said the parent.

First published in the June 29 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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