A new approach to elective selection at Valley Central High School was discussed at the board of education meeting Sept. 13.
The district will implement an institute program at the high school modeled after college majors which will promote career opportunities. After doing student surveys, the district came up with seven institutes: business and entrepreneurship, career and technical education, fine arts, leadership and education, performing arts, multicultural and STEAM.
“We have a wonderful selection of electives as it is,” said Rebekah Stoll, administrative intern and chair of the Family and Consumer Science Department. “I believe we have 90 electives at the high school that we currently offer, so it’s just a way to help the students focus on what electives to take and give them a track that they can take through the high school.”
Each institute will have required classes and optional courses. Students will have to take three credits for each institute, however they could take more if they want to. Students who complete an institute will receive a certificate of completion at graduation.
The program is in its soft roll out phase. The district is encouraging freshmen to participate. Guidance counselors will discuss it more with students as they make their course selections for next year. Next year the program will enter its hard roll out phase in which all incoming freshmen will hear about the institute program when they are selecting their courses. Years three and four will see the first group of graduating students eligible for the certificate. In years five and beyond, the district will assess the program by seeing if new institutes or courses need to be created.
Valley Central is considering having a community service or internship requirement for those enrolled in an institute. The district also wants to create more education-focused courses.
“We have students ask every year for an intro to teaching class,” Stoll said.
The district also hopes to establish an introduction to teaching club. In addition, they want to create a health and wellness institute, which would be an integration of physical education and culinary courses and have a mental health component.
Stoll added that not every student would have to complete an institute program. If a student wants a more traditional high school education, where they take a variety of electives without a focus, they are more than welcome to.
VCHS Co-Principal Russell Burns is excited about the future of the institute program.
“The college, career and beyond scope is really where we feel that both the research and our students more importantly and our parents are saying ‘This is the way that we have to go’,” he said.