An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Zane R. ’24

Five months into the school year and seven months before they’re put into effect, course signups are happening this month! This process involves 586 Upper School students requesting from among 129 different courses (not counting GOA and Summer School classes). This year, Lakeside is introducing seven new courses: Blue Planet, Astronomy, Outdoor Leadership, Black Lives Matter, 20th Century Feminism, Politics of Sport, and Beyond High School. These courses discuss relevant topics including climate change, racial equity, and gender equity.

Blue Planet; Astronomy

Section: Science
Length: Semester (Blue Planet in the fall and Astronomy in the spring.)

Blue Planet is a Biology elective that examines water at scales ranging from atomic to that of the city of Flint, Michigan. The Astronomy course is an introductory class that focuses both on historic understandings of astronomy and our modern-day point of view, starting “small scale” with our solar system and eventually encompassing galaxies and the fate of the universe as a whole. Part of the intent behind the creation of these courses is to give freshman and sophomores science electives to take. Science Department Head Dr. Parry said, “Blue Planet and Astronomy offer students [who took a science class over the summer] the opportunity to explore topics in science for a semester, or even a full year, if they take both electives, while continuing on the core science track with their classmates.” A consequence of these classes partially being geared towards freshmen and sophomores is that there will be differences in the projects and assignments that students complete based on what classes they have already taken. For example, a student that already completed Chemistry could build off of that knowledge, while a student who hadn’t completed Chemistry could choose a different focus.

Outdoor Leadership

Section: History and Outdoor Program
Length: Semester

Only for seniors, this course looks at leadership skills through the lens of history and the outdoor program. Exploring planning, risk management, risk evaluation and navigation, this course also allows students to be certified in wilderness first aid and by Leave No Trace, an organization promoting outdoor ethics. Outdoor Leadership replaces a class called Quest, which studied literature from the American West and culminated in a 3-week trip to Utah. Taking cues from Quest, students in Outdoor Leadership look at leadership methods from a historical context and apply them as assistant leaders on Middle School outdoor trips. Apart from impacting how the outdoor trips will function, the pandemic adds an additional leadership challenge. Bryan Smith, director of experiential education, says, “The wilderness environment requires one to evaluate each decision and resulting action in order to keep everyone safe and to manage risk,” and the presence of COVID puts an additional test on risk management skills and safe practices.

Black Lives Matter: A Long History of Now

Section: History or English
Length: Full Year

This course will provide a historical context to the ongoing protests and movement for racial justice and examine movements for racial equality beginning in the 1800s through literature  (fiction, nonfiction, contemporary, and from earlier in the 20th century), film, and music. History Department Head Dr. Brooks said that the focus of the class goes beyond the traditional narrative of the Civil Rights Movement involving figures like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who, while extremely important, do not represent the full nuance of that period in time. Topics covered include intersectionality, Black history and literature, race theory, and how to be anti-racist and work towards a more just American society.

Visions of Liberation: 20th Century Feminism; Politics of Sport

Section: History
Length: Semester (Politics of Sport in the fall and 20th Century Feminism in the spring.)

The course 20th Century Feminism examines feminism and other movements for equality through the lens of intersectionality with topics including sexuality and disability rights. Politics of Sport uses professional sports as a tool for looking at the values of societies and at technologies that have been created and spread through professional sports, relating to disability rights, public health, and education. The creators of these courses intended to fill a gap in the Lakeside curriculum relating to systems of oppression, so while the focus of the classes is on feminism and professional sports, they also examine how identity categories shape our lives and how students can work to dismantle deeply embedded systems of oppression. As such, the classes cover broad topics and are geared towards the general student body, even those who don’t have a specific interest in the Women’s Rights Movement or activism in professional sports.

Beyond High School: Happiness and Success

Section: Wellness
Length: Semester

This course is a revisitation of 9th grade Wellness in 12th grade. Wellness and Personal Development Department Head Ms. Lutton notes that many of the topics covered in 9th grade Wellness become more relevant later in high school, such as making decisions relating to drugs and alcohol. Additionally, many important wellness topics can’t be covered fully in only one semester, so having a second wellness class allows for expansion on important topics. Beyond High School also has a focus on social, physical and emotional health skills that are important during college and even after, ranging from personal finance to relationships with parents or guardians after high school. Through this course, students will also be able to educate other Lakeside students on these topics. The pandemic and the use of Zoom means that students will be able to connect with Lakeside alums and hear about their experiences directly.