Electives: The Early Branches to Success

Juliette Ramirez-Torres, Editor-In-Chief

   A balanced schedule is essential for a student’s success in classes and their ability to graduate. Gresham High School requires students to not only take core classes such as English or Mathematics but elective classes as well. There are many sections to the electives at school to keep them organized and easy to distinguish from the many others. For example, the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs specifically provide students with a pathway to postsecondary education and careers.

   “It’s our responsibility as educators to provide opportunities to give kids a chance to learn something that they may not know that they want to learn,” CTE department chair Brad Cook said.

   Electives allow students to learn something different that is not offered in a core class. These electives provide multiple subjects for students to choose from and explore. 

   “I’ve always felt like Gresham needed to have a larger variety. I’ve been here for almost 21 years. We have lost quite a few elective classes along the way and now I think we’re slowly building them back,” business teacher Danna Nelson said. 

   The importance of electives is recognized, but with core classes being the priority, it can be difficult to expand the electives. Just like the rest of the school, the elective departments have had some changes and will continue to do so as the years go on.  

   “We’re always limited by the constraints of the financial system. The number of teachers that we can have,” Cook said. “From what I understand we are adding a new program of study in my department next year, which is like EMT/First responders. That could be something really cool and totally different from everything else that we have.”

   Similarly, the intro to trades class is new this year and the auto shop was reintroduced after the construction of the new garage. The school understands the need for more electives and is working towards a larger selection for the students to choose something they are interested in. 

   “It’s important to take the electives seriously, not just choose them because they were the last resort, really look for something that you want to do because they can be beneficial,” senior Kennedi Thurman said.

   It is clear that elective classes can be helpful for learning and the future not only to the teachers who teach those classes but the students themselves. Electives can serve many purposes and provide opportunities based on the students’ priorities. 

   “It could be that they take those electives just because it’s something that they enjoy, and I think that everybody should do something that they enjoy,” Nelson said. Now whether they learn that yes, that’s their passion and that’s what they want to go into. That’s cool if they learn that, but it may not necessarily be the case.” 

   Certain electives aren’t for everyone, students are able to explore and research electives before forecasting for the next year. It is key to consider all sides of a class when forecasting for next year.

   “I picked my electives off of a desire to hone skills that I had and work with people I really care about,” sophomore Nate Barrett said. “All of this will come back in the future when I’m able to use these skills, and maybe morph them into something. But for now, they’re things that I’m very passionate about.”

   Typically, students choose electives for a mental break, curiosity, or an outlet for their passions. Upperclassmen typically see electives as steppings stones to what they want to achieve after high school.

   “We’ve had kids want to go into the medical field. So they go to CAL and it’s like you know what, that’s not what I want to do,” Cook said. “Then next thing you know, they’re coming back, but you know what they figured it out before they went to college before they spent money, and now they can find something else before they leave.” 

   Taking advantage of electives is one of the best things you can do in high school. They can start a student’s journey to their future career path or cause them to go in a different direction. 

   “There are always avenues that you can do called career trees. Electives are like these little early branches,” Cook said. “Then there are these massive leaves and opportunities that you guys can all find. It’s just developing those early skill sets or those essential skills in order to prepare you so that you’re ready to take those next steps.”

   Everything is connected together, and there are many areas of studies that could expand from an elective class, just like a tree might grow. Similar to these early branches, core classes themselves are at the heart of some elective classes. 

   “English itself is a literature class, but we love to have things like newspaper [class] which expands on your ability to use those skills you get from English,” Barrett said. “So electives are very necessary for enhancing your skills since core classes are only the bare-bones, they’re what you need, but you also need to do things you enjoy.”

   Both core classes and electives create a well-balanced schedule for students, leaving them on the path to graduation and beyond.  Aside from the obvious academic benefits provided by electives, they also can build a person’s qualities, like work ethic, and naturally, expand their knowledge as they learn beyond the core classes assigned. 

   “What is necessary for a good environment and to have more creative and deep people are electives,” Barrett said.


Electives offered at Gresham High School-


CTE: Automotive, Construction, Integrated Media, Education, Business Management, and Marketing, Public Service and Safety


English Language Arts Electives: Creative Writing, Pre-AP, Multimedia journalism, Newspaper, Broadcast, Yearbook


Fine and Performing Arts: Art classes, Film and culture, theatre, stage craft, band, choir, a survey of music, guitar


PE: Aquatics, yoga, walking for fitness, recreational basketball, and soccer


Social Science Electives: AP Psychology, Ethnic Studies


Others: Avid, Renaissance Leadership, ASB/ Student Council


World Languages: Spanish, Japanese