On January 24, the Wellesley School Committee unanimously voted in favor of adding newly proposed classes for the high school to next year’s Program of Studies. These classes, meant to give students new opportunities to learn and grow, are Advanced Placement (AP) Chinese, Spanish for Heritage Speakers: Nuestra Iberoamérica, AP Capstone Diploma, Rock Band, Rings, Foundations of Physics, and Intensive Robotics Honors. AP Language and Composition was also approved, but will not start at the high school until September 2024.
Three of these added courses are AP courses and allow students to take college level classes that may transfer to college credits.
“AP’s are always good. It gives students a chance to continue their learning on a more rigorous level, so it’s great to give them the opportunity to do that,” said Asia Foland ’25.
AP Language and Composition, an English AP, mainly focuses on cultivating critical reading and writing skills that students can use in their future years at college and beyond. Through the course, students will be able to improve their analytical abilities by analyzing others’ arguments and creating their own, as well as supporting these ideas with evidence.
The school decided on an 11th grade English AP because it mirrors similar skills taught in the non-AP 11th grade English classes and it allows seniors to be able to enjoy the English electives only they can take.
AP Capstone Diploma is a class available to 10th, 11th, and 12th graders, and consists of two different classes, AP Seminar and AP Research. AP Seminar is a prerequisite to AP Research, but AP Seminar can be taken without taking AP Research. Both of these classes focus on developing skills in research, analysis, evidence-based arguments, critical thinking, collaboration, writing, and orally presenting, as opposed to teaching content. Many of these skills transfer to not just to other high school classes, but to college and the workplace.
“Those [competencies] in the profile of a graduate we talk about, AP Seminar and AP Research are going to give students,” said Ms. Toni Carlson, the director of Libraries and Innovation at the Wellesley Public Schools.
Not only do students in AP Capstone learn essential skills for the future, but they also get to research and find solutions to questions they come up with themselves, allowing them to pursue their passions and interests.
“[Students] can start researching and learning about anything that they want,” said Carlson, “And it’s cross-curricular. So often you go into a science course and you’re learning just science, or you go into social studies, and you’re learning just social studies. In AP Seminar and AP Research you’re going to be bringing lots of different areas and examining them in a very scholarly way.”
AP Chinese, gives students a chance to “level up” in their Chinese studies. This class, apart from focusing on learning more complex ways of speaking, writing, and reading, also explores the cultural and historical themes present in the AP exam.
Another added foreign language class at the high school is Spanish for Heritage Speakers: Nuestra Iberoamérica. This course helps students who already are proficient in speaking and listening to improve their writing and reading skills.
“With us already knowing all the tenses as well as how to speak at a higher level than what we’re graded for, the reason most of us native speakers take Spanish classes is to practice our reading and writing skills since most of us don’t have time outside of school to practice them,” said Sofia Dobado ’25.
This class, open to students who speak Spanish at home, would, in addition to helping students improve these skills, allow them to study bicultural themes through history, literature, and current events.
In the sciences, the school will introduce Foundations of Physics to the Program of Studies. This class is a two year college-placement course taken in the 9th and 10th grades that, with its supportive atmosphere and co-teaching model, will help students build the prerequisite skills to learn physics, and teach the fundamental physics concepts to prepare students for the Introductory Physics MCAS.
Another new science course is the Intensive Robotics Honors Course. Similar to the arts intensive courses, this class delves into more complex aspects of robotics, and allows students to engineer more complex solutions to more challenging problems. This course would help students interested in robotics and engineering, who have taken the regular robotics course at least once, some have even taken it multiple times, to further their learning and give them honors credit for this advanced learning experience.
In the arts, two classes have been added, Rock Band and Rings. Both classes are open to students of all grade levels and explore new content within their respective art departments.
In the semester-long Rock Band course, the members, who can be vocalists or instrumentalists, will play both rock and pop music from various different eras. Additionally, students will study about topics such as songwriting, planning a performance, and creating a setlist.
Rings, an art class, will be an extension of Metals 1. In this quarter-long class, students will learn to design and create their own rings with many different materials, and set stones in them.