Brea Junior High makes time for students to explore more interests – Orange County Register

When Brea Junior High School students returned to campus for the new school year they had more classes than they did the year before.

More work wouldn’t be ideal for some students, but the extra workload is of their choosing.

Without adding to the length of the school year, administrators squeezed in another period of classes so about 915 students would have the option to select a second elective to add to their school schedule.

“We looked at this as a great opportunity for our students to experience their interests so that when they get to high school they are set on their pathway to something they are very passionate about,” Principal Kelly Kennedy said. “The extra electives give us that flexibility to do this at the junior high level.”

The Pathways to College & Careers is a plan Kennedy along with the staff at the school had discussed for more than a year. The purpose is to offer electives that set students up for success when they enter high school as well as maintain the student’s interest during the school year.

The electives, which include classes such as exploring medical careers, forensic science, automation and robots, were chosen by the staff because they are programs that directly feed into Brea Olinda High School’s academic programs.

Students also had a say through a survey last year in the electives that were offered.

Early on, the benefits of the extra electives have received good feedback from parents and the community; there has also been an increase in attendance compared to last year at this time, Kennedy said.

“One of things we’ve seen is our kids are engaged and interested in their electives,” Kennedy said. “Our findings early on is that our attendance rates are up. We have that positive environment that kids don’t really want to miss because they have all the core subjects that they love, but they have two courses that just relate to them so personally. We are really finding that the engagement is very strong.”

Kennedy said the school adjusted its schedule to add a seventh period by eliminating one of the two 35-minute lunches and cutting off seven minutes from each class, making each period 47 minutes long.

Most of the 14 new electives are taught by full-time teachers at the school in their own classroom.

However, two ROP instructors were added to teach the exploring computer science class and the exploring medical careers class, which was so popular that a second session was added.

Kennedy said she expects the elective program to continue to grow and evolve as industry changes.

One class already on the radar for next year is  an app building class.

“This has brought a positive vibe to our Brea community right now,” Kennedy said. “I’m very proud of that. Our parent community and business community are excited that we can offer such a variety of courses to our kids.”

 

What’s new:

Brea Junior High School had 15 elective courses that it has traditionally offered. This year 14 more courses were added as part of its Pathways to College & Careers:

–Jazz band

–String orchestra

–Marine biology

–Forensics

–Design/modeling

–Automation and robotics

–Science Olympiad

–History of media and technology

–Exploring medical careers

–Exploring computer science

–Speech and debate

–Greek and Roman mythology

–Leadership 101

–Bobcat Academy (intervention and support class for students)

Source: Brea Olinda Unified School District

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