10 High-School Electives You Don’t Want to Miss

With college admissions standards continuing to rise, little time remains for high school students to experiment with their schedules. But with the variety of courses available here in Wake County, there’s no better time to try something unexpected. Ranging from fine arts to science, literature to coaching, these unique classes may spark a new passion or inspire a career path.

Forensic Science

How plausible are the popular TV shows NCIS and CSI? Find out in your own forensic science lab. Finger printing, examining blood evidence, reconstructing crime scenes and even visiting with the Cary K-9 police team provide an introduction to the reality of criminal investigations. “The idea is to find out how does forensic science work in the real world via action in addition to what we’re doing in the classroom,” said Martina Greene, dean of faculty at Cary Academy. Offered at Cary Academy and in Wake County schools, forensic science is a popular science elective in both school systems.

Modern Dance

An outlet for artistic expression and physical activity, Modern Dance trains students in strength, flexibility and endurance. A less rigid style than ballet, dance classes teach students to move freely while performing with proper alignment and technique. Bonus: loose, comfortable clothing is encouraged.

Game Art & Design

Does your son head straight to the video game console every day after school? Harness that dedication with a course that teaches the principles used in electronic game design, including “mathematical and virtual modeling, ethics, storyboarding and all the visual theories,” said David Wehbie, director of career and technical education in the Wake County Public School System. Students are introduced to the gaming industry’s computer software programs and even develop their own games.

Core & Sustainable Construction

Based on a national curriculum, this course introduces students to construction worksite safety, blueprint reading, hand and power tools, and basic concepts for construction practices. In alignment with the nationwide trend toward all things environmentally friendly, it also encompasses a “green” component that educates students on their impact on the environment. According to Wehbie, it addresses “what you have to consider to have a sustainable industry. Everything from proper use and disposal of materials, to using recycled materials, to energy-efficient design.”

Studio Glass Techniques

This Cary Academy course offers students a unique opportunity in the visual arts department outside of the more common painting and ceramics classes. Students learn techniques for crafting stained glass and to make and fire glass jewelry. “The teacher who does that course has even done a little faculty session after school,” said Martina Greene, dean of faculty at Cary Academy. “Everybody loves playing around with the glass making. It’s really interesting and really fun.” 

Event Planning

Selecting event themes, designing decorations, creating a budget and implementing advertising are all activities included in the Event Planning course at GRACE Christian School. Planning the school’s own social events — prom, homecoming, pep rallies and banquets — creates real-life scenarios for students to implement their new skills. Also open to middle school students.

Trends & Movements in Young Adult Literature

The Hunger Games and Harry Potter series have enraptured multiple generations of readers and brought the young adult genre into the literary spotlight. In this class, students read and analyze those and other novels, short stories, poetry and dramas written specifically for teens. Some of the books covered include Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi and Good Enough by Paula Yoo. Discussions often take place in literature circles, similar to book club meetings, said Scott Ferguson, Apex High School teacher.

Interior Design

Focused mainly on residential design, this introductory course presents the principles of quality interior design, including aesthetics, materials, form, function, architectural styles and budgeting. Aspiring designers complete 2D and 3D modeling using CAD software and develop design boards and a portfolio.

Methods of Coaching

Perfect for a high school athlete, Methods of Coaching introduces young people to both the athletic and administrative aspects of coaching. From tryouts to set plays, facility management to fundraising, students learn that while coaching might be all fun, it isn’t all games. Popular books by famous sports personalities, like Duke University’s Coach Krzyzewski and Lance Armstrong, may be covered.

Fashion Merchandising

Introduce teens to the flip side of shopping — merchandising. With a strong focus on entrepreneurship and marketing, participants study the evolution of the fashion industry, methods for product research, promotional events and sales. “They go through various projects where they will actually develop a marketing plan, and study the merchandising, ethics and economics behind it,” said Wehbie. 

Unless otherwise noted, courses are offered in Wake County Public Schools.  

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