Unique courses at Davis High for the 2021-2022 school year

By Lauren Lee,

BlueDevilHUB.com Staff–

Out of the 161 courses that Davis High offers, there are multiple that are unique to our school or community. 

The Davis Joint Unified School District director of secondary education and leadership, Troy Allen, emphasizes that providing diverse classes “makes school more interesting for kids and they have more voice and choice over what they are learning.” 

Many of the courses offered at DHS are proposed by students and teachers who believe that many students will benefit from the program. 

“Teachers [will] present [a course] and say ‘I think our kids will think that this is really interesting or good for them,’” Allen said. “It’s very exciting for a teacher or administrator to develop a new course.”

While choosing new courses for the 2021-2022 school year, consider learning more about these unconventional courses at DHS. 

Baroque Ensemble P

Prerequisites: Participation in the Junior High School Orchestra or equivalent. Acceptance for the course is by audition (March 1-5). 

The DHS Baroque Ensemble is the first high school level Baroque orchestra in the United States. The group has gained features on the national publications, “Symphony Magazine-Online”, “Early Music Magazine”, “Strings Magazine”, “Teaching Music Magazine” and “California Music Educators Association-Online.” The group also travels to Europe to perform at significant Baroque venues every 3 years. 

Baroque style music originated in Western Europe during the 17th century. The Baroque Ensemble studies period techniques and practices. Students even play on distinct baroque style instruments that are different from a traditional violin or cello. The Baroque ensemble is smaller than the other orchestras offered at DHS. 

Senior Grace Ji plays the Harpsicord for the Baroque ensemble. She enjoys the Baroque ensemble because of its unique style of music. 

“For me, playing Baroque music is like solving a math problem. I [can] lose track of time more often [while playing Baroque music] than playing other kinds of music,” Ji said. 

All DHS orchestra auditions for the 2021-2022 school year will be held over Zoom from March 1 to 5. The audition registration deadline is Feb. 19.

The Art and History of Floral Design P

Prerequisite: None

The Art and History of Floral Design is a Visual and Performing Arts Agriculture yearlong course where students learn about art by arranging flowers. They can create corsages for school dances, wreaths, or even a balloon arch for homecoming in the class. 

“The course is extremely hands-on,” floral design instructor Aria Lindsay said. “My favorite part of teaching floral design is helping students realize their potential as designers, entrepreneurs, and leaders!”

The class has made floral arrangements for multiple school events and private clients in the past few years. 

“The most important skill that students take away from Floral is the ability to turn flowers into marketable works of art. Designing with perishable products can be tricky, so students learn the ins and outs of the trade over the course of the class,” Lindsay said. 

As a part of the Agriculture program at DHS, some Future Farmers of America (FFA) and Supervised Agriculture Experiences (SAE) involvement is expected for students who take floral design. 

Science Fiction P

Prerequisite: Senior standing

Science Fiction is a yearlong english course for seniors. Students study science fiction material that addresses social issues of the past, present and future.  

Science Fiction and Drama teacher Gwyneth Bruch started teaching Science Fiction over 20 years ago at DHS. 

“When I tell people at the market or the store that I teach SciFi they go nuts. They say ‘Oh! I wish I could have had SciFi’ so [DHS is] very fortunate,” Bruch said.

Bruch notices that most students who take Science Fiction do not pursue an English major in college and are more science and math oriented. Bruch aims to teach students a writing style that is “specific, direct and concise” to help them prepare for a career in STEM or business. 

“I’m teaching them to write for the real world,” Bruch said. What I love about SciFi is the incredible breadth of this genre […] there’s social commentary, LGBT issues, race issues and they are told in cool ways,” Bruch said. 

Bruch references multiple different SciFi stories with topics ranging from vampires, zombies and babies that shop from tv advertisements. 

This year, the SciFi class is reading new material. One novel, “Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor, centers a young woman who travels to an intergalactic university with different creatures. The DHS Diversify Our Narrative Club hopes to implement this novel into English classes. The class is also reading “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. 

“I’ve learned so much about how the authors of science fiction utilize literary techniques to depict interesting futuristic ideas,” Senior Eli Yasui said. “It’s a very interesting subject because the ideas brought up in the books can be translated to modern day problems.”

Madrigals P

Prerequisite: Acceptance by audition (March 8-12).

The Madrigals are a chamber choir who perform in full Renaissance attire. The group of 28-32 students perform multiple types of music across all eras in a cappella.  

The group was founded in Davis in 1966, and have since won multiple awards and recognition on the international level. Most notably, the choir won first place in the Adult Chamber Choir Competition at the Llangollen Eisteddfod International Choral Festival, second place in the Leonardo International Choral Competition in Florence, and first place in the Prague International Choral Competition. Additionally, the group was invited to join the singer-songwriter, Josh Groban, on his United States tour.

The Madrigals have performed in Germany, Austria, England, Italy, Australia, Ireland and Wales at locations such as the Sydney Opera House, Lincoln Center and the Sistine Chapel. 

Senior Dexter White has been a part of the Madrigals for all his three years at DHS. He chose the Madrigals specifically because “they have the best costumes” and because of the friendly environment of the choir.

“My favorite aspect of performing with the Madrigals is the companionship. We all work together and [I enjoy] the experience of working with the friends that I’ve made over the past couple years,” White said. “It’s just a great experience for learning music and improving your voice and skills.”. 

The Madrigals and other Choir audition forms will be released on Feb. 12 and due on March 1. 

Race and Social Justice in U.S. History P

Prerequisite: Junior Standing

Race and Social Justice (RSJ) teaches U.S. History including racially diverse perspectives on race relations and social justice in the U.S.. Students also partake in a research project on a subject relevant to current society. 

This course was written in 2007 by Social Studies teacher, Kevin Williams. RSJ is unique to DHS and is unlike other 11th grade history courses in California. 

In the mid-2000s, multiple hate crimes committed by Davis teenagers spurred a student group called the Student Research Scholars to propose the RSJ class as a solution to a research problem in the Davis community. The group also insisted that RSJ should be a non-elective course.

This year, junior Andrew Wong chose to take RSJ to focus on learning about connecting history to current events. Wong looks forward to his own research project later this semester. 

“I think it’s unique because lots of the stuff we learn we try to tie it into [the] present day […] I also like how we talk about all perspectives on events,” Wong said. 

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