Board approves new, varied courses for THS catalog

Tahoma School District
Tahoma High School students will have several new courses to choose from next year, following approval of the course catalog by the School Board on Tuesday.
The range of classes available at Tahoma High School is reviewed each year, to adjust and shape the course catalog based on student interest and need, as well as weighing the resources available.

“We believe our proposed changes this year will help keep us current and up to date with evolving state standards and student needs,” Principal Terry Duty wrote in a report to the board. “Our teachers work hard to offer classes that will help students reach their Future Ready goals.”

The other goal while working through the process is to adjust and provide interventions for students who need extra help, said Doug Burnham, assistant principal at Tahoma High School.

Each year a committee of parents, community members and staff from the middle schools and high school create recommendations, which are sent to the departments, Burnham said. Student representatives from each grade level also meet with staff to share their thoughts and add student voice to the process. Each department reviews possible new courses and changes, and those recommendations are sent to the School Board for discussion and approval. After the board reviews and approves the proposed courses and revisions, the information then goes to the state Board of Education for review.

Among the newly approved courses are: Project Citizen; Theatre Arts III; Fashion Design and Merchandising II; Advanced Robotics with CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) Manufacturing; Child Development II; Medical Interventions; Physical Education Partner (provides peer assistance for students with disabilities); American Literature Through the Lens of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s; Journalism: Broadcast and Production; Comedic Literature; Beginning and AP Music Theory; Beginning Vocal Jazz; Physical Science with Earth Systems; Essential Adaptive Physical Education; and more.

Junior Emily DeBolt, who is a student representative to the School Board and heard the presentation about the proposed changes, said: “I was so excited to hear about the new classes that will be put in place next year! I really do wish that I had more periods so I could take more fun classes! I am so thankful to be in this district and get to be a part of these amazing opportunities that the district works so hard to provide to us!”

The new eight-period schedule, which is supported by local levy funds, has allowed students more flexibility and choices. It was a decision that came out of an intensive study of the high school model, by a group of students, parents, community members, and staff.

School Board President Mary Jane Glaser echoed DeBolt’s enthusiasm when sharing an update about the proposed changes with district PTO and PTA representatives last week.

“It’s so exciting to see the array of choices that our students can choose from,” Glaser said. “We want our students to be excited about coming to school. … This is something that sets Tahoma apart from our neighboring districts.”

In the advanced robotics course, students will have an opportunity to build on skills from robotics, and will be able to make more customized and advanced mechanisms with a focus on CNC manufacturing. In the second child development class, students will be able to get experience working with children in preschool, earn a Merit Certification, Food Handler’s card and CPR certification, which are industry requirements in Washington State for anyone working in childcare. The medical interventions class will add a third course in the health sciences pathway, and is part of the Project Lead the Way curriculum; students in the class will follow the life of a fictitious family as they investigate how to prevent, diagnose and treat disease. They also will learn about evaluating human DNA, cancer treatment options, and other case studies about immunology, surgery, genetics, pharmacology, medical devices and diagnostics. For more about the other courses, visit our website at and click on “Our District,” then “School Board,” then “Agendas & Policies,” and select the Jan. 9 meeting agenda to read the report to the board.

Senior Jamie O’Donnell, who is also a student representative to the School Board, said that the new class offerings are a great way for students to participate in their genuine interests.

“Personally, I like the new English options since I am looking into career options involving literature,” O’Donnell said. ” I think the new classes really help the students who feel as though they are being guided into specific courses, and give them the opportunity to do something new and interesting. I think every student will be able to find something that will spark their interest.”

Along with new courses, the process also allows the School Board the chance to review proposed changes to classes, such as updated fees, added emphasis on Future Ready Skills, updates to descriptions and homework hours, changes made to align courses with standards, and more.