Course cuts for classes

The+former+debate+classroom+is+transformed+into+an+English+classroom+for+teacher+Meghan+Mclendon.+Debate+1-4+was+cut+last+year+due+to+lack+of+student+interest+and+teacher+availability.+

Julia Bychowski

The former debate classroom is transformed into an English classroom for teacher Meghan Mclendon. Debate 1-4 was cut last year due to lack of student interest and teacher availability.

Julia Bychowski, Staff Reporter

Five classes have been cut from the 2022-2023 school year course list, due to issues involving lack of student interest and staffing shortages. These classes include: ‘Securities and Investments’, ‘Personal Financial Literacy’, Latin 1, Debate 1-4, ‘Energy and Natural Resources Technology’ and ‘Applied Nutrition and Dietetics’. 

“Taking [‘Securities and Investments’] was a good way for me to get an idea of what I’m getting into,” Faris Badran, a senior who planned on taking the course as an intro to the business field, said, “to help me prepare for that kind of career.”

Many of these smaller, more specific, courses acted as a follow up or secondary course to foundational classes, giving students the chance to delve deeper into interests they want to pursue post graduation. Due to this, growing interest in different areas may beg for the revival of certain classes. 

“They’re going to keep [‘Applied Nutrition and Dietetics’],” Stacey Pomerantz, ‘Family and Consumer Sciences’ teacher, said, “it’s a great upper level class, so students are going to want it eventually, the more [the] interest builds.”

With over 130 students taking culinary-related classes this school year, the demand for an upper level course is expected. The district recently introduced the courses as a way for  students to experience professional standards, such as food safety and sanitation, food service and management. Unfortunately, the class was cut due to issues relating to lack of staff.

“It comes down to having 4 kids get exactly what they want,” school counselor, Shawna Powell, said, “or [using] this teaching spot to have a whole bunch more kids in something like Accounting.”

Since classes like ‘Energy and Natural Resources Technology’ don’t bring in many students, their removal was facilitated with the intention of using the scarce staff in the most  efficient way to get the most students into their preferred course. Within the agricultural classes, these would be courses such as ‘Small animal management’ or ‘Equine Science’, and for ‘Personal Financial Literacy’, courses such as ‘Money Matters’ take precedence over the smaller and more specialized classes.

“As far as Latin, [there is] minimal student interest in that course,” school counselor Shawna Powell said. “Most kids do Spanish or French.”

Certain classes that are offered by the district still have a chance of coming back for a future school year, but unfortunately for the Latin classes, they will be phased out within the next couple of years. Since Latin I was previously offered in middle schools, Vandegrift is planning on keeping the program until those students reach Latin 3, at which point the class will be removed altogether. 

“We did a lot of activities and really learned a lot from [the debate teacher].” Noya Vainbrand, a sophomore who took Debate I last year, said. “But then she left and after that, we almost kind of stopped learning anything.” 

Although Debate 1-4 was cut due to problems surrounding a lack of student interest, the dilemma of having a teacher was also a driving factor in its removal. Most teachers at Vandegrift instruct in more than one course, so having a teacher that’s only able to teach one, is problematic. 

“I was somewhat disappointed, but also excited for new opportunities.” Caroline Graham, a junior who planned to take ‘Energy and Natural Resources Technology’, said. “There’s more than just wildlife [that I am interested in], so I could take on another interest in a different course.”