Paly to add new math, English, music classes

To align with an updated state curriculum and in response to student feedback, Paly will have a variety of new courses to choose from for next year including ones in mathematics, language arts and performing arts.

Associate Superintendent Sharon Ofek said she has worked with the math department to create a new data science class involving the application of data analysis and sampling through project based lessons and units.

Ofek said following the successful completion of Geometry and Algebra 2, juniors and seniors can develop their writing and communication skills by way of data interpretation in the data science class. 

“The number of courses proposed vary from year to year with factors to consider like the release of state frameworks, shifts in interest and expressed interest from staff or students,” Ofek said.

Another new offering next year is American Literature, a semester-long course offered to upperclassmen for focused study on the influence of diverse cultures and identities in American literature. 

English Instructional Leader Shirley Tokheim said the English department has not offered a new course for several years, and American Literature used to be a required semester of English for all eleventh graders. 

Tokheim said some of the English teachers eagerly support the return of this course because they think it will be a way to explore important issues in American culture.

Reaching beyond the core subject classes, Symphony Orchestra will become an honors course for students who are willing to pursue music in an 8th period class. 

This would give them the opportunity to focus on technical skill development and explore music theory in depth. 

Director of Instrumental Music Jeffrey Willner said he wants students to have a full symphony experience including all band and orchestra instruments. 

“They’re essentially doing different repertoire, different music,” Willner said. “So let’s say you’re a violinist in this class ––  you’re going to hear other instruments that you’ve never practiced with before.” 

Willner said he doesn’t know if the class will run next year because it depends on how many students sign up.

The course requires a prerequisites before joining, including auditions and applications in the spring from those who have played in a PAUSD orchestra or band for at least one year. 

And since the course is designed to move at an advanced pace for honors credit, Willner said students must have at least four years of experience with their instrument. 

Willner said students must also be concurrently enrolled in the Band or Orchestra course during the school day to be a part of the course. 

Freshman Kate Xia said the addition of new classes could be beneficial for those who are particularly invested in a topic or want to try out different subjects. 

“Seeing a course about a subject I really enjoyed would be very exciting for me because I would have the opportunity to pursue it more in depth and also (find) a tight community of people with similar interests,” Xia said. “I’m sure other students would feel the same way about these additional courses.”