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New Elective Courses at South Pasadena Middle School Engage Students in Experiential Learning
Posted by: Andrea Fox Published: 10/20/16

Numerous Choices Offer Middle School Students the Chance to Explore Various Subjects and Learn New Skills

SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. (October 20, 2016) – Shortly after the school bell rings, many South Pasadena Middle School (SPMS) students start their days in nontraditional ways.  Whether by testing the robot they built, painting art on lockers in the hallways, using science and math concepts to create edible treats or producing a television newscast, students are given the opportunity to enrich their daily learning in their elective courses.

     The breadth of electives being offered to middle school students is greater than ever. Previously, electives included orchestra, band, chorus, drama, Spanish, visual arts and yearbook.  These courses continue to be offered and thanks to additional funding from SPEF, state grants and the adoption of Project Lead the Way curriculum, students now are given additional choices such as Broadcast Journalism, Culinary Science, and STEM courses covering topics such as Introduction to Robotics, Flight and Space, and the Science of Technology.

     “We’re trying to personalize the middle school experience for students,” said SPMS Principal Dave Kubela. “Our goal is for them to try something new and to discover what they are passionate about so that they can better determine which direction they would like to go in high school and beyond.”

     The elective courses appeal to a broad range of students and also give them experiences developing 21st-century skills like communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.  Teachers are weaving English Language Arts and Mathematics standards into the electives as well. For example, in Culinary Science, students may be taught a lesson on fractions in order to complete a recipe for a large group of people.  In Broadcast Journalism, students frequently write news stories before learning how to work the cameras for the telecasts.  The Robotics classes commonly work in groups requiring students to use communications skills throughout the lessons. The process of overlapping the standards and skills makes the learning experience richer for the students.

     The new student electives are so popular that SPMS now has restructured the school day to allow more students to try the courses.  Students may opt to take P.E. as a zero-period course, freeing up time in their schedules to add in another elective, if desired.  Also, students who complete the entire STEM series of courses between sixth and eighth grade will be awarded a certificate indicating completion of the pathway.  Additional pathways for other subject areas may be added in the future.

About South Pasadena Unified School District

Established in 1886, the South Pasadena Unified School District (SPUSD) serves approximately 4,800 students within five schools including three elementary schools, one middle school and one comprehensive high school in South Pasadena, California.  Nestled in the West San Gabriel Valley, SPUSD has earned a reputation for providing high quality public education, attracting families who value challenging academic programs and outstanding teachers. Consistently recognized for superior performance, SPUSD students earn honors at the local, state and national level.  The District draws vital support from parents and community members through the South Pasadena Educational Foundation, local PTAs and booster clubs.

New electives offer SPMS students the chance to experience a variety of subjects. (Photos courtesy of South Pasadena Unified School District)


For more information, contact: South Pasadena Unified School District, Office of the Superintendent, scarroll@spusd.net