School offers classes beyond 3 R’s

first_imgWEST WHITTIER – Whether students are designing a dream home, playing golf or remodeling the teachers’ lounge, classes just got a lot more interesting this semester at Los Nietos Middle School. For years, budget restraints and a focus on core academic subjects created a drought of elective classes at the school. Now, however, a new principal at Los Nietos has made coming to school fun again, students said. Principal Marla Duncan, who formerly worked as an assistant principal at a Pasadena school, said teachers were hoping she could bring back elective courses that had not been offered at the school in at least seven years. “Kids need things that make them want to be at school,” Duncan said. “So I asked each teacher whether they could teach – as an elective class – something they personally like to do, something that would spark the kids’ imaginations.” “Our test scores show the students don’t do well on measurements,” Alvarado said. “When we started this class, I stood \ in front of them and asked how far apart we were. And they’d say, `Oh, like 10 feet.”‘ So Alvarado broke out a measuring tape to give them a reality check. But by the time the class is done, students will have created 3-D models. The school is also getting some help from neighboring Pioneer High School, where officials are helping revive Los Nietos’ band program and setting up a Cadet Corps. “The JROTC director at Pioneer put out a notice to the kids to come sign up for the \, and 42 kids did,” Duncan said. “I talked to him this week and he says he’s up to 59 now. So it’s been great. “We’ve got lots of good things going on around here,” Duncan added, smiling. “This is only the beginning.” Teachers say the introduction this school year of electives has not interfered with students still learning what they need to be academically successful. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John PhillipsThat resulted in classes in interior design, art, creative literature, a school newspaper, yearbook, drama, band, home design, a military-based cadet corps, computers and creative writing. Teacher Elsa Alvarado’s exploratory math elective class, where students are designing their dream homes, started the year with 15 to 20 students. But through word-of-mouth, enrollment grew to 33. Eighth-grader Andrea Rocha, 14, joined the class late, after hearing Alvarado talking about the class. “Before this year, school was kind of boring because you did the same thing. Everyday was like, `Here we go again,”‘ Rocha said. “Now, they’ve brought fun back to the school. Our new principal cares about our education, but it seems like she wants us to enjoy it.” While the idea of designing a dream home is exciting to the students, Alvarado says it also helps them learn much-needed skills in spatial relations. last_img
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