STA holds first elective fair

STA’s new elective fair helps students learn about new or lesser known courses.


At the first annual STA elective fair on Jan. 12 digital media teacher Kelly Scott explains the courses she offers to junior Katya Blair, such as graphic design and computer illustration and design, using designs created by her previous students. photo by Kate Scofield

by Alexandra Frisch

story by Alexandra Frisch

With 123 courses offered at STA, many of which are electives, students have numerous options to consider when choosing their courses for the next year.

This year STA held its first elective fair in the Windmoor Center where teachers could present their electives to students.

According to principal of academic affairs Barbara McCormick, the idea for the elective fair came from both the student leadership team and from the teachers.

“Some teachers were offering new courses and they wanted to speak to students,” McCormick said. “They did that last year but they took up class time, so we wanted to find another way and invite all teachers who offer electives to be able to do it.”

Another objective of the fair, according to McCormick, was to help students learn about the electives directly from teachers.

“We’re hoping that students were able to get a feel for what the courses look like because on paper or on the website it’s hard to tell, even with a description, what the course is really about,”  McCormick said.

According to Maura Lammers, a part time teacher at STA, The fair helped her reach out to students she hadn’t met yet.  Her new elective for next year is Women, Society and Self a course that will focus on discussing historical and current events directly affecting women.

“[The fair] let students approach me and ask me questions that expanded on the course description that I had already posted online,” Lammers said. “I’ve only taught juniors and seniors so it was a good way for me to approach the underclassmen and give them a chance to get to know me better.”

Some courses, even though they were not new, may still have been unknown to some students according to McCormick.

photos by Kate Scofield

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“Robotics has been offered for two years but there were still girls who didn’t even know it was offered,”McCormick said. “If you haven’t had Mrs. Conner… They might not even know that course was there or what it looks like.”

According to STA science teacher Terry Conner, because few students have taken Robotics yet, it wasn’t as well known across campus as her other courses.

“When students just have to look through that course catalog they tend to just gravitate to what their friends have taken,” Conner said.  “If I’ve had seven students take the class last year and nine take it this year…many girls don’t have an idea what the course is about.”

According to McCormick the fair was also a way of gauging student interest in the offered courses.

“I think it’s really important for us to always have that relationship with students, because although we look at what colleges are expecting and we should be offering we also want to know what student interests are,” McCormick said.

Another part of the reason teachers want to promote their courses is that, unless a minimum amount of students interested in a course, STA is no longer able to offer that course.

According to McCormick the minimum student requirement varies depending on the course.

“Robotics is a pretty hands on course so if we get anywhere from five to ten students… we’ll hold the course,” McCormick said.  “I really expect 10-15 for a course, for instance I can’t hold a summer course without at least 15 students or else we can’t even afford the teacher.”

According to Lammers the elective fair helped her gauge approximately how many students may be interested in her course.

“I won’t know for sure until March whether or not the course will be finalized,” Lammers said. “I may even only teach one section but from the number of students who said they were interested I feel like we could easily have 2 sections for the class with about 20 students each.”

According to McCormick the administration will gather feedback from students about the fair that will help determine whether or not the fair is held again next year. However, according to McCormick if the fair is held next year it will likely be in a different place.

“We thought we could maybe do it in Verheyn or the entrance of Goppert so there is a little bit more movement room because it was a little crowded during activity one,” McCormick said.