In With the New: Padua Refreshes Their Elective Selections


In late January, students received an extensive list of electives that are available to them.

Brynna B. '20, Reporter

As the window for handing in student course selection sheets closes, the stress is tangible. Out of the multitudes of classes, we only have room for eight courses. Many students have all four years of courses planned out by the end of freshman year. However, some of those careful schedulers were thrown for a loop by the introduction of several new elective courses that piqued their interest far more than anticipated.

Jess Molen, a junior, admits that she has had an idea of the classes she’d take through senior year since she was a freshman. So the addition of so many new electives gave her pause.

“I really had to think about if I actually wanted to take certain classes, and which electives would be best to fit into my schedule,” she said. “I don’t know if it actually changed anything, but it definitely made me reconsider some of my options.”

For the 2019-2020 school year, Padua has created nine new elective courses, available to a variety of grades.  Mrs. Fundakowski, the academic dean, explains that when a department introduces a new elective, they attempt to fill a gap in the existing curriculum.

“They’re really trying to… fulfill a need for the students,” she said. “Within media and arts, or IT, there are no core classes, so they’re constantly changing their classes to consider what makes logical sense for the students who have shown an interest in that area, how to best further their education, if that’s where they want to go.”

They’re constantly changing their classes to consider what makes logical sense for the students who have shown an interest in that area, how to best further their education, if that’s where they want to go.”

— Mrs. Fundakowski

The arts and media department has added a new full year graphic design elective, and the IT department has added an advanced web page design course.

“Many students pick web page freshman year to fulfill their IT requirement, and then find they enjoy it more than they expected,” Mrs. Fundakowski said. “But there was no place to go if they wanted to keep going down that path.”

However, a majority of electives were added in departments that do have core curriculums, including the English and science departments. The English department has added The Graphic Novel, a class designed to fulfill the gap left by Detective Fiction once that class became a senior year required course.

“We were trying to reach a large segment of our population… It [Detective Fiction] was open to 10th, 11th, and 12th grades,” Mrs. Fundakowski said. “It was something that was open to anybody, you didn’t have to be an AP student or an honors student.”

In science, they’ve reintroduced Ethics of Science, which was a full year elective for a number of years. However, this past year, it was not offered at all. The science department is attempting to reintroduce it as a semester course instead, to perhaps make it easier to fit into students’ schedules.

“The full year time slot is challenging, so we’re kind of going with the idea that half year courses might be better, more manageable with people’s schedule,” said Mrs. Fundakowski. “So hopefully more students will consider adding that to their schedule.”

Along with all those courses, Religion has added two new classes, In the Steps of Saint Paul, and Social Justice. Over in the language department, Mrs. Burris has redefined her french history class, narrowing its focus to review only women in French history, as well as moving it to a semester instead of a full year. Finally, Padua has added three more VHS (Virtual High School) classes: Forensic Science, Genes and Disease, and Oceanography.

“We thought they’d be a good follow up course for classes we have in the department, but we probably don’t have the interest in the student body or the teaching capability to offer it to a large classroom size,” Mrs. Fundakowski said. “So we thought this would be the best solution.”

Molen said that she was particularly excited to hear about the Forensic Science course.

“It’s something that I’ve always been interested in… I’ve wanted to go on to do something within the field of forensic science for forever,” she said. “I’m not sure if I’m going to do it because I’m not sure how I feel about an online course, but I was definitely excited to see it as an option.”

She explains that not knowing who the teacher is for the VHS course made her uneasy, particularly because she believes that the teacher can drastically change the quality of a course. But Mrs. Fundakowski warns that picking a class based on the teacher is a dangerous game.

“You never know what might happen… there’s no guarantee,” she said. “If you choose the teacher, and not the subject, you might very well be stuck in a class that ends up being a very different experience than you intended it to be.”