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New Year, New Classes

A closer look at the most recently added elective courses at Blair

By Reethi Padmanabhan, Staff Writer
March 8, 2018
Although Blair already offers a unique variety of electives in Science, Social Studies and Art topics, this school year provided an opportunity for many teachers to offer brand new and unique electives that delve into specific areas of these subjects, such as feminism and advertising.

Recently Introduced Electives
In Women's Studies, students discuss important topics such as feminism and the many impacts of gender on their lives. Courtesy of Sec Ed
In Women's Studies, students discuss important topics such as feminism and the many impacts of gender on their lives.

Women’s Studies
Prerequisites: None

In this class, students learn basic feminist theory and analyze the impact of gender on many aspects of their lives. According to Women’s Studies’ teacher Alison Russell, the course "provides students with several examples of how gender impacts their lives [which] could be the media, politics, or the workplace."

How have we created power systems based on race and class? How have these systems shaped our world? Those who are interested in similar questions should strongly consider taking this class, especially as Women’s Studies will be offered for the first time as a full year course in the 2018-2019 school year. On a broader level, however, Russell believes everyone should take this class as it deals with core feminism concepts such as the definition of gender.

"In the words of feminist scholar Bell Hooks, feminism is for everybody. I think that because we talk about gender as a concept and that includes both femininity and masculinity that this is a class that everybody benefits from," she says.
While taking Chemistry of Art, students will have the opportunity to discover the chemistry behind colorful pigments. Courtesy of Ferro Pigments
While taking Chemistry of Art, students will have the opportunity to discover the chemistry behind colorful pigments.

Prerequisites: Studio Art 1

Painting is taught by teacher Amanda Wall in conjunction with her other Studio Art classes. The class covers information about different painting mediums, such as watercolor and acrylic painting, as well as various techniques used within these mediums. In addition, students learn about several brush types and techniques.

This elective is very informational for students who want to get serious about painting. For Wall, the Painting elective allows interested students to refine and practice skills learned in Studio Art 1 and eventually help them discover their artistic identity.

"Many different people have many different theories about what is considered the right [painting] technique,” she says. “[The class] is a lot of experimenting and having kids develop their own signature style with paint."

Commercial Art
Prerequisites: Digital Art or Photography 1B

Commercial Art is a class where students engage in independent projects, with the guidance of teacher Jacqueline Armstead-Thomas. Students learn how to use new programs that are not used in Digital Art or Advanced Digital Art, and are then given prompts to do their own freelancing work. Within the course, there is a focus on four central themes: school investment, independent research, community outreach, and copyright design.

This course would benefit those interested in digital art or drawing in any capacity, those looking to pursue a career in the digital art, or simply those who have taken Digital Art or Advanced Digital Art and are wondering, "What’s next?" According to Armstead-Thomas, this class might also suit anyone who appreciates an unconventional class style.

"Anyone that really loves art but doesn’t necessarily like the structure of a traditional class where the teacher is in front of you everyday should take [the class]. So if you like to work a little more independently, with a little more freedom, this might be the class for you," she says.

Courses Beginning Next Year

Even with the addition of several new courses this year, there are still many engaging and intriguing electives that will roll out next year for students to consider taking.

Chemistry of Art
Prerequisites: AP Chemistry or Advanced Science 2

This new magnet elective is focused on examining the intersection between chemistry and art and its direct applications on several mediums of art. Within the course, students will learn about the chemistry of color and pigments, photography, metallic chemistry and even authenticating works of art.

Junior Alice Varughese, who plans to take the class next year, is most excited about the elective’s colorful labs.

"I am most looking forward to the labs because there is so much that could happen with observing color or texture changes due to factors like temperature and pH," she says.

Although the course is a magnet elective, anyone is welcome to enroll after taking the appropriate prerequisites. In fact, junior Sally Zhao believes that everyone should take this class regardless of their experience or skills in art.

"You don't have to be good at or interested in art, although that certainly is a plus, to take chemistry of art. There is something for everyone! You can learn about chemistry and its practical applications as well as have fun doing labs," she says.