S. ABINGTON TWP. — Abington Heights High School Principal Andrew Snyder has been working to create more course selections for students.
“We’re just passed halfway, but we’re already looking ahead to next year,” Snyder said during a school board meeting Feb. 21. “I’m trying to replace some of the mandatory courses with options that can be based on students’ interests and goals. If you want to take more science courses, you can. We’re not going to restrict you.”
Snyder is trying to help students find the perfect balance between courses they are required to take and those aligned with their future plans.
“We want to allow for flexibility within the master schedule to help each student receive both the classes they want and the classes they need,” Snyder said. “I’m trying to find ways that we can offer more classes and still have a positive teacher-to-student ratio.”
Per Snyder, Art 3 and Art 4 are going to be combined into Advanced Studio Art, and students will have the opportunity to take the class either one or two years.
“Each year, they are going to declare a different focus in the class (painting, drawing, jewelry or sculpture),” he said. “They will pick their focus and create a portfolio to use for college and beyond.”
Snyder also announced several changes in the business department.
“We reworked computer applications and web page design,” he said. “These were older courses and they weren’t meeting 21st century technology needs, specifically in the business filed. We’ve taken aspects from each of the classes and created a Business Technologies class that will also include other technologies in the business world.”
A half-year Principles of Investing course, in which students will gain an understanding of personal investments and higher-level investing strategies, will also be added.
Snyder said the all Level 3 curriculum in the English department will be revised to better meet the needs of the students.
“It’s incorporating more practical reading strategies,” he said.
Students will also have more chances to take advanced placement classes in different grades.
According to Snyder, the district is in the process of adding AP Statistics.
Also, starting next year, select 10th-grade students will be recommended for AP Human Geography.
“The class has been widely popular with juniors and seniors, but its popularity has cut back from both AP European History and AP United States History,” Snyder said. “Now, students will have more AP opportunities throughout their career.”
Per Snyder, some 11th-grade students may be recommended for AP Physics 1 and then they will be eligible to take AP Physics 2 as a senior.
The district will add a National Examinations in World Languages (NEWL) Russian course.
“Seniors will be able to take a Russian course with a nationally-accredited college-level exam and, hopefully, earn college credits,” Snyder said.
The biggest changes in course offerings is in the physical education department.
“The number of courses that students have to take has not changed, but they are no longer going to be tied directly to a grade level,” Snyder said. “It gives them more flexibility and allows them to pick when they take their electives. They can take every physical education course or take the minimum one credit or two courses over four years.”
According to Snyder, the only physical education course required for graduation is Health and Wellness, which is taken in ninth grade.
Two current courses that will be continued to be offered are Biological Science Sports Medicine (Bio Sport), which helps students learn athletic training, and Team Sports, which consists of any team sport in a gym class setting,
“All our physical education courses are going to be graded on a numerical basis,” Snyder said. “There will be tests and expectations…we want to model our phys ed courses after a college course. It’s more than participating; you have to learn about the sport itself.”
Four new physical educations courses will also be offered at the high school next year.
• Adventure-Based Education will consist of a variety of physical and mental challenges that will teach teamwork, team-building, problem solving and perseverance skills.
• Personal Physical Fitness will teach students lifelong fitness skills, including nutrition, weight control, stress management and weight training.
• Lifetime Sports and Activities will consist of low-impact exercises, including archery, bocce and golf.
• Sports Management and Coaching Principles will be based on the nationally accredited American Sport Education Program (ASEP).
According to Snyder, students who take this course will have an opportunity to get both CPR and first aid certification.