Eccentric Electives at Woodgrove

The chaos of scheduling classes for next year is creeping up on Woodgrove students. Here are some of the unique electives that Woodgrove students can select. 

Mrs. Harar’s Women’s Studies class holding their posters for women’s standards in society. (Ainsleigh Shipp)

A new class this year at Woodgrove High School, taught by English teacher Beth Harar, is Women’s Studies. This curriculum involves discussion based learning on a wide range of topics including women’s issues, gender issues, and how women are involved in the world. 

To the students in this class, these conversations extend beyond the confines of the school walls. Senior Mason Roberts says, “I think the topics we discuss and the inclusivity show how much depth there is to the discussion because it’s more than just learning; it’s confronting the problems in the world today and seeing what’s wrong with it.”

For Harar, this is her first time teaching this class and she has noticed how much she can cater the curriculum towards her students. “ When I accepted it [teaching the class], I had no idea what I was going to do, but I found the class naturally went in the right direction. My students are really fantastic; they’re so excited to talk about different things. Some of it I can cue off of them, so if I hear them bring up something, that may be our next lesson,” says Harar. 

Mr. Talboo’s African American studies doing a Google Meet with a class in Germany. (William Den Herder)

Another class that is on the rise at Woodgrove is African American Studies. This class is being taught by Matthew Talboo for the first time this year. Talboo says, “This course emphasizes specifically deep aspects of African American history. It’s basically a deep dive into the issues involving African American history prior to arriving in the United States and the entire journey up to the present day.”

The class is also focused on projects but does have a test each quarter. Some of their discussions include African American history in Loudoun County and the history of Africa. 

Students analyze and discuss the under-represented perspectives in history and share new understandings. Senior Molly McPhillips says, “We’ve been working on making videos about certain subjects to put on the announcements and educate people in the school, which is really interesting and fun. It’s an opportunity for us to learn about stuff that isn’t specifically in our curriculum. We also talk to schools in Germany about what they learn and they have an Afro-German history class, and it’s very interesting to compare and contrast those two classes in different countries.”

Under the English department falls another unique elective: Mythology. This class studies different legends and myths throughout history and further, reaching its way into space with Star Trek and Star Wars. They do readers’ theater of each myth and play games as part of the day to day activities in class.

“You might’ve heard about Zeus, Artemis, and Persephone, but you don’t know their backstory and learning about it brings all the magic together,” says Junior Sydney Muth. 

 While there are not many tests, the class is project based. The best part of the class are mythical projects according to teacher Lynne Schoonover. “I really like the hero’s quest where you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. The difference between fairy tales and myths is that in fairy tales you have the assurance that everything will be okay. In myths, you really don’t know and that’s our own story, and so one of my favorite projects is going to be where they write their own adventure story based on the hero’s quest with the options at the end,” says Schoonover. 

Ms. Bingaman’s fifth block Cybersecurity class working on their projects. (Ainsleigh Shipp)

Woodgrove has an expansive CTE department and one of it’s “hidden gem” classes is cybersecurity. Cybersecurity isa project-based class focused on protecting networked systems connected to the internet and data from unauthorized use. Ms. Georgina Bingaman, who teaches the class says, “Students really decide how deep they want to go into the content and self-regulate how they are moving along in their labs.” 

Students in this class complete labs through Virginia Cyber Range and take regular assessments like computer hardware identification quizzes. They also use virtual machine environments which simulate the real Linux environment, a place where users run programs and share data. Senior Ryan Simmons says activities like these help them learn about the work environment and create a “good work ethic.” 

The electives offered at Woodgrove provide students with engaging curriculum based on their specific interests. Electives can help students explore potential career fields and prepare for higher education. It is important to keep in mind the numerous electives Woodgrove has to offer as you select your classes for next year.