Changes Between Semesters
This semester, the electives rollout had some unexpected adjustments. Music and Moot Beit Din electives no longer run during the elective time, studio art and coding continue to run, and the administration added a new active time elective.
Although the music elective had “a successful first run in the first semester,” General Studies Instructional Team Leader Mr. Joel Rojek explained that it discontinued this semester due to “a request of the teacher.” In addition to this High School elective, Mr. Michael Levine teaches every grade level throughout AJA, so “he had a little too much on his plate.” Additionally, music “didn’t exactly line up with our schedule,” so a student interested in music had to flip their back-to-back electives and lunch period on Fridays. Junior Eli Cohen, a member who “really enjoyed” the music elective, was “definitely” disappointed to find that music was discontinued this semester because it provided an opportunity “to branch out and learn about producing music.”
While music does not take place during elective time anymore, photography continues to run. Although the class is smaller than the first semester and consists of only a few students, photography teacher Mr. Jeff Stein found that “Having two or three students who are into photography can be better than having fifteen students sitting in the room, when some of them are not really into it.” So far, the group has had “excellent” discussions while learning about the camera’s exposure settings and composition techniques.
In addition to music, Moot Beit Din, a national competition that simulates a Jewish court, is no longer offered because the group of students involved “wanted to [work on] it outside of the elective slot,” according to Mr. Rojek. Freshman and Moot Beit Din member Yaakov Wasserman appreciated this adjustment because he found a lack of “focus” during the elective period, due to the teacher’s limited availability and the small group of students. Therefore, he used this newly opened period as an opportunity to join the active time elective and incorporate “a fun way to let out energy” into his schedule.
According to Mr. Rojek, an active time elective was created as “another option” to account for music and Moot Beit Din not running during the elective period. Because this new elective is still in the early stages, Athletics Director Coach Rodney Zimmerman and the administrative team are “hopeful that [it] can have more of a structured curriculum… in the future.” Many students, such as Freshman Zac Agichtein, jumped at this “fun alternative.”
Across both semesters, study hall has been a useful resource for students who utilized the extra work time or did not show interest in the elective choices. Zac, who spent his first semester in study hall, used it as a “helpful” way to work on assignments, especially because he was “not interested in the other elective options.” Similarly, sophomore Leora Frank who joined study hall in the second semester believed, “I felt that I could be more productive with my time [in study hall].”
However, for those who wanted to try a different elective choice or continue in their previous course, coding and studio art provide the option of a creative outlet in students’ schedules. Freshman Eliana Flusberg, who participated in photography in the first semester, searched for a “more interactive” elective, prompting her to join studio art. Seeing the creative pieces made in the first semester, she remarked, “I wanted to try something new and studio art seemed really interesting.” Sophomore Zellik Silverberg decided to take coding for both semesters this year because he enjoys “the feeling of fulfillment that comes with solving a problem” and wanted to “pursue something that deals with the sciences.”
This semester, seniors were given the privilege to leave campus during lunch on Mondays and Fridays. On these days, lunch and electives are back-to-back, so seniors could opt for a special senior study hall, which almost all seniors did. This study hall allows seniors to leave the building for an extended period at the cost of taking an elective course. Nonetheless, senior Sivan Livnat jumped at this opportunity and joined the senior study hall because “I’m happy that we finally have the senior privilege.”
Looking at the big picture, Mr. Rojek sees progress with a full year of offering electives thus far. He believed this is a major step in the right “direction.” Mr. Rojek looks forward to building and adding to the current elective options to create an “even more robust elective culture as we look past this year.”