One of the most unique and lesser known attributes of The Franciscan School (TFS) is the wide range of electives offered to middle school students. Aside from the traditional electives of Music, Art, and Drama, TFS began expanding its offerings in 2016 to further enrich the education of students. This variety is not as common in the private school setting, because it depends entirely on the willingness of faculty to share their time, talent, and passions with students. But the faculty at TFS have gone above and beyond to do just that.
For the 2021-2022 school year, our faculty have provided 16 different electives for students to choose from. Most electives are trimester long, so students have three opportunities to participate in different options. Students provide their top 8 choices, and most likely they get their top choice at some point during the year. It is not a requirement for faculty to teach an elective; they do so with the intention to bless and enrich the students. A few of our elective teachers shared why they believe their electives can make an impact.
Megan Winter, 6th grade ELA teacher, has been practicing yoga for the last eight years. She decided to use all she has learned to teach a Yoga and Meditation elective. While the class helps build strength and flexibility, it’s also helping to improve the students’ focus, memory, and concentration- all valuable lessons inside and outside the classroom.
Mike Watson, TFS Principal, decided he wanted to get back into the classroom, despite the demands that come with being the school principal. Watson leads a Personal Finance elective that focuses on budgeting, consumer skills, credit, investing, college, and having a job. “We need to treat middle school as a training ground for success in high school and college,” says Watson. “This includes challenging students with topics and courses that prepare them. Personal finance is great way to get them started on the right foot for their future financial success.”
Kristen Dellasega, 8th grade ELA teacher, started a Pop Culture Through the Decades elective out of necessity. She noticed that certain words or references in pieces her students were reading didn’t make sense. “It felt like a lot of information was getting lost in translation,” says Dellasega. “This elective goes through the decades and helps decode what made each time period unique and wonderful.”
Karin Kuropas, 6th grade Science teacher, began a Science Olympiad just this year. Although this is the first time here at TFS, Kuropas has coached multiple teams at different schools and says “every time, it is an adventure.” This competition program contains 23 different events in which teams compete, and students can study the information that interests them in the three branches of natural science (physical, earth, and life) and engineering. Some of the topics include Anatomy, Physiology, Sounds of Music, Experimental Design, and Bridges.
Shawn Tenace, 5th and 6th grade Religion teacher, started the Fundamentals of Fitness elective with 6th grade Social Studies teacher Kathryn Nystrom. Tenace believes that today’s society is making us less active, so his goal is to provide the kids in this elective with 45 minutes of outside exercise time. “Whether that is walking, playing, or body weight exercises, the students will find a healthy release for stress and go back to the classroom with a clearer, more focused mind and strengthened body.”
These five electives are a glimpse into the 16 classes offered this year. Others include band, creative writing, debate club, computer programming, STEM, study skills, and more. Because of the dedication and passion of our faculty, TFS stands as a leader in equipping our students with a broadened educational experience.