Learning Beyond the Core Curriculum
For the next two weeks or so, if you happen to pass through Marist School’s main office (quite possibly on your way to Admissions!), you may notice a display case, covered in text, photos, books, and a map of our Brookhaven neighborhood. And as overly academic as the case may appear at first glance, that presentation tells of the history of our city: of the cemetery hiding in the trees behind Best Buy (it exists!), of the meadow that used to flourish right where Murphy Candler is now, of the plantation house that General Sherman stayed in in the 1860s. I would know the display case well – because I helped put it together!
You see, last term I enrolled in an elective called “Introduction to Archival Research,” a two-student class that gave me one hour each day to organize, document, and research the materials in our Marist archives – because although few people are familiar with the archives, that place exists as well! Over the course of the term, we visited various historical sites in the Brookhaven area, sorted through old documents, and looked at Marist’s past – all in hopes of creating that presentation as our one final project.
And you may think, Why would the school offer a class about archiving? Yes, I admit, it’s a bizarre course to choose – yet Archival Research is just one of the examples of the many options we students receive as far as electives are concerned. Because every year, I get four elective spots, and every year, one of my hardest decisions is picking what to fill those credits with.
Just to give you some examples, by the time I graduate, I will have taken Journalism and Young Adult Literature through the English department; Astronomy & Planetary Science and Ornithology through the science department; Leadership & Society and Integrating Computer Applications through the social studies and computer technology departments; Drawing & Painting and Chorus through the fine arts department; and Lifesaving & Aquatics and Body Conditioning & Awareness through the physical education department – just to name a few. And there are even more classes that I’ve wanted to take but that I’ve never had the space for: Creative Writing, Religion & Philosophy, Modern Middle East, History & the Holocaust, Gardening… and the list goes on.
So although, yes, I take the usual maths, sciences, languages, and beyond, those courses can only personalize my schedule to an extent – because where we students really take control of our schedule is with our electives; those are the classes that push us to pursue our true interests, that allow us to choose exactly what academic path we want to follow, and that prepare us for all the options that await us in college.