Electives give students chance to explore options, but have seen reductions over time


Photo by Anum Mahdi

Foods students prepare salads and dressings in their elective course.

By Jordy Carrillo, Reporter

As of 2023, West Chicago Community High School offers a wide selection of electives to students, but some question if there are enough.

One of the murals created by the senior class outside of the art rooms. Art is one of the elective options at WCCHS, and there are several classes from which to choose, including painting, ceramics, and digital photography, among others. (Photo by Jordy Carrillo)

The catalog of electives here at WCCHS (West Chicago Community High School) is vast and, according to administrators, considers student interests and talents. Some students and teachers are aware that some electives have been removed from the curriculum over the years, though they do not know why. 

Some electives that were removed include PE classes juniors and seniors could opt into, including bowling/rollerblading and water polo. These classes were established under Dan Johnson’s tenure, when he was the department chair.

Seminar classes for English and Social Studies classes, allegedly popular in the late 1990s, were also eliminated at one point. 

According to long-time English teacher Bradley Larson, electives are closed for the year due to low student count or they are replaced by current classes; some are deemed unnecessary. 

Electives may be kept in the curriculum offerings because students are fond of the elective and are not switched to new electives.

However, students surveyed by the Wildcat Chronicle in February indicated they would like to see additional offerings in the future. Other schools in the area, such as St. Charles East, offer classes such as oceanography, debate, woodworking, athletic training, and even astronomy.

“I feel like students are more into electives that are more creative and that require student ambition. And maybe more sports,” senior Ismael Barrera said.

Both English and Social Studies classes included seminar electives that explored the history of Chicago, science fiction novels, and even Shakespeare’s works. According to Larson, these seminar classes gave students opportunities to explore and learn about topics they liked, and also topics that would otherwise not come up in regular classes.

Child Development is one of the elective offerings at West Chicago Community High School. Each spring, this class opens a limited preschool for area residents. (Photo by Anum Mahdi)

However, the integration of seminar classes and other electives for students could clog up their schedules, meaning students would not have enough space to take a class. According to the administration, student engagement would be required as well to keep these classes running and optional for students. The elective options give room to students to socialize among other peers who share that class’s interests. Socializing gives engagement to the class and makes students potentially enjoy the class. The more engagement the less the need to remove a class for something else. 

“They were also courses that were a little off the beaten track. They still taught the same skills that regular English classes would teach, but they would give students an opportunity to take something that maybe otherwise they wouldn’t have the chance to study,” Larson said.

“I thought they were a lot of great classes. I taught one: it was called the Current Political Issues class. It was all current issues. I thought that was a great class. And we ran other classes,” Economics and Government teacher Candace Fikis said.

Students are not the only ones who can recommend or hope to see certain types of electives. According to Fikis, teachers can also recommend electives to the administration in an effort to provide different types of class experiences for students. Philosophy started as a seminar class, and today, it is a prevalent elective option among students, available to all grade levels. The point of elective classes, Fikis said, is to give experiences to students about topics they like or want to explore as a career choice or simply to try something new.

“I think it’d be really interesting if we had an independent study program, where students could work with a teacher or two to design a course for themselves about a topic of interest that they aren’t able to study already,” Larson said.

“I would love to bring back a class that does focus on Illinois or Chicago history. I think that it’s really rich, and I think a lot of students would be interested. We did talk also about a women’s history class,” Fikis said.