Art and English Elective Guide

By Reed Jaworski and Kallen Prosak


It’s half-way through yet another year at Jamesville-DeWitt High School, and students have already began to think about what their class schedule next year. However, misinformation causes misunderstandings in every class, making it difficult to know what to take.

In J-DHS, one is required to get a mandatory amount of art and music credits before graduating. To fulfill this requirement, students can take one of of the following courses:

“If you like the hands-on making process of things, you should definitely take Ceramics,” said freshman Ryan Mandelis. In Ceramics, students gain an appreciation for ceramics, understanding how “we interact with it, like plates, dishes, and cups,” said J-DHS Ceramics teacher Steven Pilcher. According to Mr. Pilcher the students are able to make “utilitarian, functional work.” Students learn about expressing themselves, as well as being creative through the ceramic process. “Any student at J-DHS is a good match for this class,” said Mr. Pilcher. Students should take Ceramics because they learn to have “appreciation for what goes into a piece of art, whether it in a gallery or showcase,” said Mr. Pilcher.

Photo 1
In Photo 1, students get introduced to black and white photography by learning how to set shutter speed and aperture on an SLR camera. “They have to learn to develop prints in the dark room which can be quite difficult,” said J-DHS Photo 1 teacher Lisa Troubetaris. However, Photo is not a class to be taken easy and lightly. Students should take this class only if they have a “willingness to do work out of class,” said Mrs. Troubetaris. Sophomore Alexander Ferlenda agreed with Mrs. Troubetaris when he said, “it is a fun class, but the work is annoying.” Although anyone can take this class, it is geared towards people who value “art and self-expression. (Students) should take this class because it allows people to improve their picture taking skill,” said Mrs. Troubetaris.

If you think Chorus is simply for the musically gifted, you’re wrong. “(This class is for) everyone,” said Chorus teacher Elizabeth Quackenbush. “It’s for anyone who likes to sing or wants to learn how to sing,” said sophomore Arianna Hege. There are different levels of Chorus you can take: Concert Choir, Women’s Choir, and Chorale. “In all of the choral ensembles, students learn proper technique, as well as how to perform music well,” said Mrs. Quakenbush. “This class is fun and the hard work you do in it pays off,” said Hege.

Band/ Orchestra
Band/Orchestra teacher Dan Blumenthal said “Anyone can take band, I’ve got kids who’ve been playing since the fourth grade, kids who have taken off a few years, or new kids.” Freshman Will Potter confirms; “It’s a good class to take if you want to learn how to play an instrument.” In Band/Orchestra students rehearse as a group to prepare for the four concerts per year. “It’s very fun. We have a good time, and it opens up new extracurriculars for students,” said Mr. Blumenthal. These extracurriculars include the jazz band, the pep band, and the pit orchestra for the play.

Even though you don’t have to take electives besides the mandatory art and music credit, they are better than just sitting in a study hall. There are also several English electives open for students to take. Many J-DHS teachers and students recommend trying:

Public Speaking
In Public Speaking, students learn “extemporaneous speaking, the process of learning to prepare for speeches with notecards,” said J-DHS Public Speaking teacher Kelly Creamer. Although students have notecards, they are not supposed to memorize the speech or read from the notecards. Students learn how to give informative, demonstrative, persuasive, and entertaining speeches. Anybody can take public speaking, whether they be shy students, or students who are already confident in speaking. For shy students, “baby steps are taken to alleviate fears,” and “confident students refine their skills,” said Mrs. Creamer. “I took this class because my mom made me,” said sophomore Riley Foti, “but I probably would have taken it senior year anyway.” Students should take this class because it has “little homework, except preparation, and it is fun and informative,” said Mrs. Creamer. Foti recommends students take this class because “it has already made me a better public speaker.”

Creative Writing
In Creative Writing, students get to spend time free-writing their own works, writing about different prompts, and also focus on various styles of writing, pace, and voice. “Anyone who enjoys creative writing, but cannot find the time for it should take this class,” said J-DHS Creative Writing teacher Matt Phillips. Brian Cieplecki, a sophomore, said, “it’s fun, creative, and beneficial because it releases you from student life.” Students should take creative writing if they “really enjoyed writing, and want to develop their skills,” said Mr. Phillips.

Drama is a performance-based workshop class in which students are taught in a non-traditional way. “In a traditional class you sit down in a chair and work,” said J-DHS English teacher, Joe Goldberg, “but that’s not how Drama is.” Drama is a mix between prepared and improvisational skits. Collin McKee, a freshman, said that “(Drama) is a class that students think will be easy, but requires an effort.” Prepared skits include monologues and pantomime plays, while improvisational skits are more game-like such as “Whose line is it anyway.” “The best part about this class is that is draws people from very diverse backgrounds,” said Mr. Goldberg. Drama “should help (your) public speaking and confidence” and Mr. Goldberg encourages “anyone who is interested in performing (to join).”

Reading Films
In Reading Films, students watch a variety of movies, learning the characteristics and conventions of drama. “If you take this class you will be exposed to movies you didn’t even know were written,” said Mr. Goldberg, who also teaches a reading films class. “It’s the best, you get to watch movies all day,” said senior Morgan Pusey. The movies range from western movies to dramas to suspense movies. “You should take it because its so much fun,” said Pusey.

Decisions can be tough to make, but students should make them soon, as to get into the class they want. Students should take their time when deciding, taking all choosing factors into mind. Different Social Studies and Science electives will be posted after break.

This archival content has been imported from our previous RamPage site.