Social studies department proposes a variety of potential new classes


Killian Johnson

There is a possibility of new social studies courses for the 2024-25 school year

Lindsey Hall

The social studies department announced possible new courses for the 2024-25 school year. Students were asked to share their interest levels for each potential class, which will play a determining role in their approval. 

The list of nominated classes included a diverse selection from all branches of the social studies field. Activism, cultural and regional histories, and current events in media are a few of the themes students can explore with the new classes. According to social studies chair Don Pankuch, many aspects influenced the recommendation of additional courses.

“[The social studies department] likes to offer new courses,” Pankuch said. “There also has been a law change that said there were certain mandates we had to cover, which was easier to do by creating new courses than trying to force it into existing courses. Finally, I think it is student interest.”

However, before the proposed classes are added to the official course catalog, they must be reviewed and approved by the school board as well as planned during curriculum writing. As a result of a large number of social studies courses already offered throughout the district, not all classes will be accepted.

“Hopefully by the end of this year, we will have an idea of what we would put in next year’s course catalog, of one or two options, ” Pankuch said.

Due to low enrollment, some current electives may be eliminated. However, the requirements and class order will largely remain the same.

“[Classes] may shuffle that around a little bit, but part of what we are trying to do is not disrupt what we already have, since it works well”, Pankuch said. “[We are] trying to find spots where kids could fit in a course that they did not know about, especially sophomore year since there are not a lot of electives during that time. So [potentially] we can do it, though, we also know that kids’ schedules are limited.”

One potential class which differs from the other suggested courses is AP African American Studies. This course was introduced by the College Board instead of the district team and is being piloted in schools across the country. According to Panchuch, 

“What is interesting is they call it African American Studies, not history,” Pankuch said. “So we are trying to figure out if that is a history class or is it an English class. Or, is it humanities which is oftentimes what students would take in college, we do not know yet. Therefore, we are kind of sitting back and watching. We know that we want to be able to offer it, we just do not know where it would be best for because of prerequisites and guidelines on what grade level.”

The course interest surveys and feedback from students provided invaluable information for the social studies department. Pankuch encourages students to continue to share changes they hope to see implemented in the future.

“We are trying to be responsive to what students want,” Pankuch said. “It is a good example of how important student voice is in their education.”