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Sample Electives, 2010-2013
What can Quakerism teach you about yourself? As a student at Olney Friends School, you are a part of the Quaker world. Olney’s history is tied to the history of Quakerism and what we do here has its roots in Quaker beliefs and practices. Let’s try to figure out what it’s about! We’ll look at the history, faith, practice, and diversity of the Religious Society of Friends through reading, discussion, writing, projects, interviews, guest speakers, film, slideshows, and field trips. You will be able to apply what we study to your life as a member of the Olney community and as a citizen of the world.
Many people have tried to make sense of themselves and their ultimate questions by writing memoirs. A memoir is a creative nonfiction account of someone’s experiences, memories, and reflections. In this course we will read and discuss excerpts from several memoirs in which authors consider their faith and spirituality. Students will become memoirists themselves, writing about their personal experiences and ideas in journals and through informal writing exercises, some of which will become formal essays. The class will share their essays and help each other improve their writing through workshops.
We will study three of the world’s major religious traditions. As a class, students will select which three from among Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese traditions, and Japanese traditions. The class will consider each religion’s concept of the divine, sacred texts and people, forms of worship, ethical principles, and ideas of space, time, and death. We will take at least one field trip to a holy site (for example, a Hindu temple). Students will be evaluated on their class discussion, quizzes on major concepts, short response papers based on readings and field trips, and a culminating artistic project.
Religion and Philosophy:
This course is intended to help students think clearly and critically about religious belief. Topics include, but are not limited to: the religious experience, the arguments for and against the existence of God, science and religion, and the comparison of religious traditions.
Practical Skills Electives
Students study the art of film making and make several short films.
Students learn everything from how to change a flat tire, to how to make conversation on a first date, to how to balance a checkbook. And much more!
Private Instrument Lessons
Painting and Drawing / Two-Dimensional Art
Ceramics / Three-Dimensional Art
This course will guide you through creative visioning, drawing up plans, and execution in ceramics, home-made paper, wood, and other media to make “graddy boxes,” gifts for graduating seniors.
An introduction to the basic elements of the dramatic arts through experiential projects in acting, directing and set design. Classes will consist of in-class acting exercises, short-term projects, and three larger projects: two scenes for which students will both act and direct each other, and one scenic design project. The term will conclude with an informal performance involving every student of the “best of” from the term’s projects.
AP Literature and Composition:
This is a college-level course designed for a thorough study of literature from the sixteenth century until contemporary times. This study involves reading of poetry and prose, intensive exploratory and expository writing, and discussion. You will read British, Nigerian, Senegalese, American, Indian, and Colombian poetry and prose. These texts all deal with themes of colonialism and the encounter of cultures; hence this course is intended as a companion for Humanities 12, in which you study colonialism and globalization.
AP US History:
This course surveys the history of North America and the United States from earliest European contact and settlement through the Reagan administration, emphasizing the political, institutional, and cultural development of what becomes and is now the United States. Through a combination of secondary readings, most notably Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty! An American History, and original documents, we will explore the way American societies grew and developed, and how “liberty” came to be a central, if shifting and debated, central theme of the new nation. Most of the images we examine will be drawn from The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History web site.
This course introduces students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles, theories, and phenomena associated with each major subfield within psychology.
Writing through Grammar:
This course will provide the student with an in-depth look at English grammar, specifically focusing on syntax (the way words go together in sentences and phrases) and morphology (grammatical relationships as expressed in individual word form). Juniors should also take note that we will spend quality time writing and polishing college application essays. Open to all interested students, but sophomore and junior international students are especially encouraged to enroll.
This elective course will focus on what it means for humans to live in a social context. Questions for exploration will include: When and why do we help people? Why do we get lazy during group projects? How can we reduce racist thoughts and actions in modern America? The course will be largely discussion-based, and we will read about established theories in social psychology as well as current research trends. Assessments will be based on class participation, reading assignments, and short quizzes and projects.
We will read four or five books over the quarter: one of Shakespeare’s plays, either Beowulf or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a Victorian novel, and another book or two that students will choose. This will be a reading-intensive class, so expect 10 to 25 pages of reading per night on average (depending on the difficulty of the reading). Assessment will be in informal weekly written responses to the reading and in class discussions.
This non-credit course is offered to all juniors as they prepare for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).