The student news website of Omaha Central High School

OPS cuts Central’s popular electives

October 13, 2021

As of the 2021 school year, Central High will no longer offer the Food Culinary Sciences (FCS) and the upper Textiles and Design classes. The decision to stop offering these classes came quite abruptly and with little warning to students. The classes offered students a way to explore their interests in sewing, cooking, health, fashion, caring for newborns and more. It was a way for students to expand their horizons beyond their core academics. These electives extended the minds of students and helped them discover what they are truly passionate about. So, why were these classes discontinued?

All elective classes have to align with the Nebraska Department of Education Standards. This means that all pathways offered at Central must have an intro/prerequisite class followed by three subsequent classes. Electives have to follow the H3-High Wage, High Demand, High Skills career clusters. Otherwise, OPS will refuse to offer them.

“An audit of OPS programming was conducted by an outside consulting company, and based on the results of that audit, programming has been adjusted to best meet the needs of OPS students to prepare them for their futures post-high school,” assistant principal Danielle Brandt said.

The decision to cut these classes from Central High was made by TAC and not Central’s administration. OPS believed that the upper Food Culinary Sciences and the Textiles and Design classes were not benefiting students enough, so the pathways were canceled.

“I was disappointed when I found out that some of the programs were ending last year…I think that the class would have offered a lot of valuable experiences,” explains sophomore Norah Hicks, who took Textiles and Design 1-2 her freshman year. Like so many other students, Hicks is disappointed that she isn’t able to continue her chosen pathway and take electives that interest her.

“It was literally the best class ever… It was a nice break from school and it taught you lessons you will use later in life,” sophomore Maddie Hartley said, who took Foods and Culinary Sciences her freshman year.

“Considering fashion is something I want to do in the future, and it is not offered at Central anymore, breaks my heart. I feel like I don’t have as many opportunities. I feel like I wasted my time in a class that I cannot continue,” sophomore Alsafa Alkhalil said.

Students at Central chose to use their limited amount of electives to participate in these pathways. Most of the students planned to continue the same pathway throughout their four years at Central. If they had known these pathways were ending, they would not have taken the prerequisite classes, to avoid wasting time in a pathway that would be discontinued. Although the introductory Textiles and Design class is still offered at Central, it is not part of a pathway.

The elimination of these upper Textiles and Foods classes has decreased the number of electives offered at Central. With a growing number of students and a dwindling amount of electives, students have had to enroll in electives they aren’t interested in because other electives were full.

“I have seen a direct effect in other content areas offering elective classes; specifically increased class numbers,” department head Deborah Corell said. This year, gym classes are so over-registered that walking classes had to be created to adapt to the growing population of students with elective periods to fill.

These classes taught extremely beneficial skills that likely weren’t taught anywhere else. All students need to know basic life skills like eating healthy, making good decisions, mending and ironing clothing, basic cooking and working as a team. Therefore, students in the English Language Learning program (ELL) benefited greatly from the pathway.

“It was a loss of an elective that had helped students learn the skill of vocabulary acquisition in general,” explains ELL teacher Mary Davies. These electives helped ELL students practice English vocabulary and speaking while working with other students to create something they are interested in.

Cancelling these electives has not only affected students, but also staff. Many teachers lost their jobs at Central and now work elsewhere.

“It was evident that what we gave to the students wasn’t valued by the district,” expressed former Central High Foods and Culinary Sciences teacher, Brooke Sutton, who lost her job due to the decision. She now works as a product specialist at LinkedIn.

Sophomore ZaKheya Johnson agrees. “When I was taking the foods class I got to do something fun. I know other students who wanted to join the foods class this year, but OPS took that opportunity away from them,” she said. “If it’s not medical, engineering, arts or drama, OPS doesn’t want to offer the classes. It’s unfair to get rid of classes that students are interested in because of how successful jobs are in that field.”

 

 

 

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