Spring Term Electives: The Opportunity to Begin Anew

Vivian Sun'18, Opinions Section Editor

As a new spring term begins at Peddie, sophomores start their new Modern Global history elective and juniors and seniors enter their new English electives. Sophomores are enrolled in a spring history elective focused on one area of the world, be that Asia, the Middle East, or Africa, among other possible geographic specialties. Juniors and seniors have their pick of English electives, which span everything from contemporary novels to poetry workshops. These elective/class changes are required for all sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  

The English elective changes have been in place for many years. Catherine Rodrigue, teacher and Associate Head of School, says that it is vital to include “rally points,” which is defined as “something that makes people join together to support a person, cause, etc.” by Merriam-Webster. Blair Day is a classic example of a “rally point” for fall athletics, and the change in English electives is an academic “rally point” for juniors and seniors. The same goes for the sophomores’ history electives, which allows them to go more in-depth into the political, geographical, and historical nuances of an area of the world. Not only was the decision made to allow students a bit of control over what they want to learn, but faculty members were also interested; it also afforded a “more focused elective concentration,” says Rodrigue, with more variety than a typical world history curriculum would provide.

As a junior, I’ve experienced my share of mandatory history and English elective changes switching up my schedule. I personally am an advocate for these English and History electives, as, despite the changes these electives may induce in my daily schedule, they allow for me to obtain an in-depth view of a geographic area or of an area of English. I’m willing to change up my schedule in order to broaden my horizons and learn more about a certain part of the world that I might not otherwise be as well-versed in, or to delve deeper into different areas of English. The schedule changes aren’t too drastic, either, since Ms. Palilonis, the registrar, does her best to make sure that the class changes fit within a student’s current schedule.

During spring term sophomore year,  I took Modern Africa as my history elective. My history class changed and switched blocks with my English class; the adjustment to new English and History classes, however, was not difficult to make. I found that many of my friends had also undergone such changes and I wasn’t alone in adapting to a new classroom with a new teacher and new classmates. I adjusted quickly and was soon in the groove of things by the end of the first week; it was like I had been in that new English class my entire year!

Currently, I’m enrolled in Literature of Challenges: College this year for my spring term elective for English. This class analyzes stories that provide different perspectives on college; they challenge us, as prospective college students, to think about how we formed our current perceptions of higher education and to make us think about, and potentially change, our opinions. This class is unique in it’s nature, and I’m so grateful Peddie gives us the opportunities for us to take such interesting classes, even if it means slightly moving around my schedule.

Spring often means new beginnings, and in the middle of a long school year with a grueling academic curriculum, switching things up affords students exactly that. Changing History and English electives adds variety and provides students with the opportunity to provide input on what courses pique their interest.