VUSD offers a dozen new electives at high schools

Courses range from sports psychology to arson investigation in academies at all five high schools


VISALIA – High school students will have a dozen new courses to choose from next year, including sports psychology, arson investigation and an advanced culinary course.

The elective courses, which range from one semester to a full school year, were approved by the Visalia Unified School District Board of Trustees at its regular meeting on Dec. 12 and will be offered beginning in the fall of the 2018-2019 school year.

Sports Psychology will be offered to juniors and seniors in the STRONG Academy and El Diamante. The class will provide students with knowledge about psychological factors that affect performance in sport and exercise, such as motivation, concentration, focus, confidence, burnout, goal setting, life balance, attitude, character development, leadership, coach/athlete relationships, anxiety and relaxation.

The STRONG Academy has also added an advanced Sports Medicine course for seniors. Students will be exposed to detailed anatomical and biochemical study of each major body region, physiological response of tissue, specific medical conditions and injuries, principles of injury prevention, assessment and rehabilitation, and exercise physiology and human performance.

Criminal Justice 2 is a junior-level course offered through the First Responders Academy at Golden West. The class will focus on law enforcement and apprehension, prosecution and courts and the disposition of people charged with the commission of crimes, with a focus on the fire prevention, criminal code and psychology behind the crime of arson.

Students in grades 9-12 in the academy will also be able to take forensics. The major areas of study for this course include principles of crime scene investigation, fingerprinting, trace evidence, blood/DNA evidence, drug evidence and digital evidence.

In a somewhat related field, juniors in the Law and Justice Academy at Redwood will be offered constitutional law. The course will introduce students to the complexities of the Supreme Court and its role as the arbiter in the nation’s political and legal system.

The Media Arts Academy at El Diamante is offering two new courses – advanced cinematic arts and media arts 2. Advanced cinematic arts is an 11-12 grade level class that incorporates technical aspects of filmmaking as well as a focus on the aesthetic decisions and their effect on an audience while encouraging students to find an internship or job, or attend college discussions, presentations, technology, research and writings that culminate into an 8-12 minute short film. Media Arts 2 is also for grades 11-12 where students will create flats for set building and build sets on the needs of the film students and drama program. Students will also further develop 3D special effects skills on the computer and techniques in sculpting, molding and running latex, foam latex or silicone for masks and prosthetics.

Seniors in Redwood’s Architecture and Engineering Academy will soon be able to take an engineering design and development course. The class is an open-ended research course where students work in teams to design and develop original solutions to a problem. After selecting, defining and justify the problem, students will select an approach, create their solution and then test it.

AgriTech Construction will be part of the AgriTech pathway at VTEC high school and will be offered to students in 9-12 grades. The course is an introduction to construction trades with integrated math content, such as measurement systems, blueprint reading, scale measurement, safe use of hand and power tools, calculation and characteristics of materials, carpentry, framing, basic electrical wiring, plumbing and site preparation.

Students in the Academy of Health Sciences at Mt. Whitney will have the opportunity to get valuable experience in the field of medical billing and coding. The class, open to grades 9-12, will introduce students to health insurance claim submission and payment processing.

Students looking to get a job right out of high school can obtain their Food Handler’s Certificate in the basic culinary course. The class, open to grades 9-12, will develop students’ knowledge of basic food nutrition, flavor profiles, various cooking methods, personal hygiene, safety, sanitation, aesthetics and proper use of kitchen equipment.

Visalia Unified will also be offering an advanced culinary class to grades 9-12. The class introduces students to foreign foods, explaining how the climate and geographical features of a region affect the food and analyzing the relationship between culture/customs and types of dishes. Students will demonstrate the ability to prepare dishes native to different regions of the world and math concepts of fractions and multiplication and division by cutting recipes in half and doubling them.

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