How to Choose the Right Electives

It’s that time of the year again. You are sitting in your guidance counselor’s office being asked one very important question: What electives would you like to take next year? You think it’s pretty frightening picking classes eight months in advance. Your mind starts spiraling like a tornado of possible questions. Will I like this class next year? Do other kids take this class? What if I am the only one in this class? Can these electives benefit my future career? What about college? 

Verona High School currently offers a total of 61 electives in its curriculum for students to choose from. For a 16-year-old student, it may be challenging deciding which electives that you would like to enroll in for the next year. 

Rachel Garcia, a guidance counselor at Verona High School, says that she recommends electives to her students based on their interests and what they may want to pursue in college. The number of credits needed for a student to graduate also plays a factor. If they need a certain number of credits for a category, then they will be advised to take a class from that specific section. 

Out of the 61 electives available at VHS, the most popular ones are History and Hollywood Cinema, Medical Biology, STEM, Social Media Marketing, and fine arts classes like Graphic Design, and Digital Photography. 

Helene McKelvey-McLaughlin, who teaches graphic design, photography, and fashion design classes at Verona High School, says she teaches five total periods and has about 30 kids per class. Photography teacher Chrissy Sciacchitano, also teaches five periods and averages about 25 to 30 kids per class. Jason Atkins teaches STEM classes at VHS has 20 to 30 students per class and six periods. Fine arts classes like listed above generally fill up faster because of the high demand. 

The least popular electives are drama and public speaking. 

“Students feel vulnerable being in front of the class. They may find it embarrassing,” Ms. Garcia said regarding the reason why these classes are not as popular as the others. Although these classes are not appealing to most students, Ms. Garcia recommends them to teens to help them get out of their comfort zones, especially speaking in front of an audience. Public speaking can be used in multiple career paths such as being a lawyer, professor, or salesman. 

If you are looking to take a class that won’t be as challenging, the graphic design classes might be good for you because “I don’t want (students) to be stressed or dread coming to my class,” Ms. McKelvey said about why she makes her class a comfortable environment for all students. 

Ms. McKelvey teaches multiple graphic design and fashion classes at VHS.  She was not a teacher when 9/11 happened, but says it changed her views about working in an office. She hoped to do something bigger for the community and try to give back. She loved the subject of graphic design, had majored in it, and was working in that field, so she decided to become a teacher of graphic arts. 

Sophomore Cara DeMars was recommended to take graphic design by one of her friends and described it as “really fun, I liked the activities and the teacher.”

Sophomore Keira Dolan had said her favorite elective was STEM because she was able to apply a lot of creativity into crafting a car which she then raced in class. 

Sophomore Megan McGrath chose digital photography as one of her electives because she was interested in potentially pursuing a career in photography. She enjoyed exploring the different types of photography.

Due to the broad range of electives offered at Verona High School, there will always be something for everyone to try out and fit into their schedule. Choosing electives is a big decision for anyone.  Talking to upperclassmen friends who’ve taken the classes, guidance counselors, and the elective teachers themselves are great ways to make sure you make the right decisions.