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News, Opinion, & Multimedia for Tamalpais High School

The Tam News

News, Opinion, & Multimedia for Tamalpais High School

The Tam News

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Tamalpais High School adds new courses to the curriculum

For the 2024-25 school year, Tam will be bringing new electives, graduate requirement classes, and AP classes to the curriculum.

As routine class selection begins, Tamalpais High School has widened its class options for students to choose from.

In past years, district budget cuts and class sizes have resulted in elective and Advanced Placement (AP) classes such as Ethnic Studies and AP Spanish Literature and Culture being removed 

This coming school year, the list has expanded by adding new electives, graduate requirement classes, and AP classes.

A varying number of AP classes can have the potential to positively impact students. 

“We have offered AP European History for years so I think for our kids of color to be self-reflected   in the course[AP African American Studies] is going to be amazing,” Tam counselor Sandra Pula said. 

However, some of the past classes that were cut or could not be filled are now being re-incorporated into Tam’s curriculum. 

Both Ethnic Studies and AP Spanish Literature and Culture were featured on the student’s list of class options for the 2024-2025 school year. Tam is also offering the Ethnic Studies class not only as an elective English choice but now implementing it into the freshman core curriculum.

English Ethnic Studies, primarily focuses on developing students’ writing skills through the lens of people of color. 

“African-American/Black, Indigenous, Chicane/Latine, Asian, and Pacific Islander writers and artists of color will be front and center while bringing in other intersections of identity,” according to Tamalpais High School Course Guide.

The class now being offered as a separate year-long class can also be represented in Tam’s Social Environmental Justice Academy (SEJA) program as a part of its English curriculum.

AP Spanish Literature and Culture is a class that has not been taught since 2014 and is set on selection lists with hopes of a class period.

Differing from AP Spanish Language and Culture,  AP Spanish Literature and Culture is heavily focused on the history of the language in written forms. Including novels, authors, and poetry. The class offers students to excel in their reading and comprehension of Spanish texts.

“Students continue to develop their interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational skills in Spanish language,” the College Board wrote on their website.

However for the class to be taught there must be a minimum of 20 students who take it. 

“The course includes the study of each author’s life and historical background in relation to their works,” Henna Lopez Rahimi wrote in the course description. 

“I really want to take it and I hope there are enough to take it,” junior Audrey Lowell said. 

An additional fine arts class Artist’s Voice: Art, Activism, and Social Justice, which focuses on social movements in history through art form has also been included. The class studies how social and art activism has moved and changed society. 

Artist’s voice counts as art credit that is necessary to graduate Tam. It is open to all students and plans to be taught by Emma Keenan Grice. 

Grice also teaches AP Art History, Ceramics 1-2, and Drawing and Painting 1-2. This will be the first year she will teach the class.

Unlike a stereotypical painting or drawing class, Artist’s Voice allows students to understand the historical context of the art activism they view and learn about, “There will be a historical component, reading articles and researching and learning but also creating art,” Grice said.

In terms of what the class covers, the list is very drawn out from past and present American to global social justice movements. 

“Feminist art, the Iran Revolution and protests that are happening today, LGBTQ+AI movement, the AIDS epidemic, Native American struggle for sovereignty in the U.S., food sovereignty issues that are happening due to colonialism in Ghana and the Pacific Islands. We have a lot of artists to look at from there.” Grice said.. 

The central goal of the class is to show students how they can make a change in different ways for varying social movements.

“I’m hoping it will give them the tools to talk about these different topics and raise awareness in a way that they feel empowered and confident to do,” Grice said.

AP African American Studies, a class that will launch for all nationwide schools in the 24-25 school year is the newest addition to this list. 

“We already enjoy so much of Black culture and we just don’t know the history and we don’t know why this culture is so amazing,”  Tam teacher Michelle Ceja-Chau, who plans to teach the course, said. Ceja-Chau will also be teaching the ethnic studies core.  

Unlike some AP courses that have a four-unit curriculum, Ceja-Chau plans to add two units.

AP African American Studies is an interdisciplinary course that draws from a variety of fields—history, literature, the arts, geography, science—to explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans, from ancient African societies to the present,” stated College Board on their website.

“It’s going to paint a fuller picture,”  Ceja-Chau said.

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