Classes They Have and Have Had: MHS Courses

Milwaukie High School has educated students for over a hundred years. As generations of Mustangs have passed through, the school has gone through changes in many areas, including curriculum. The classes offered are constantly in flux. It took years of changes- changing times, budget cuts and increases, the addition of Milwaukie Academy of the Arts (MAA), the partnership with Sabin-Schellenberg Professional Technical Center -to get where we are today in terms of offered courses. But what do current Mustangs think of the classes they take?

The school’s elective options cover many fields of study, such as visual art, music, world languages, economics, athletics, and more. The school also has access to the Sabin-Schellenberg Professional Technical Center, which offers more career or trade-based classes focusing on everything from coding to forestry to cosmetology. As school counselor Jennifer Krumm said, “we’re very fortunate in this district to have Sabin-Schellenberg, which has funding.” Many students are happy with the courses offered at MHS and Sabin-Schellenberg. Eliza Arnant-Hull, a MAA junior, has an interest in visual art. When asked if any of her classes increased her knowledge of her interests, she replied “Art and Yearbook“. She is in Advanced Art, after taking Art 1-2 and Art 3-4 in the years previous. Austin Hunt, a MAA (and previously MHS) sophomore, had his career path altered by a class he takes. He ended up in the Schellenberg Journalism class, and he is now considering a career path in journalism. “It helped me find out that it was a thing for me. If this (class) wasn’t here, I don’t know what I’d be thinking right now.” Ani Kraus, a MAA junior, is also happy with the classes available to her. She has taken a variety of electives, including Creative Writing, Spanish 1 and 2, and multiple Culinary courses. Her interests of “writing, cooking, and art” are certainly covered in the classes she’s taken.

Many classes have been cut, however, to the disdain of both students and teachers. There is only so much funding to be had in the school district, so only so many classes are available. To institute new classes, others must be cut. This is not the fault of the school or district. According to school counselor Ms. Krumm,“If districts don’t get enough federal funding from the state, then they have to cut back on electives and offerings,”. Among those cut over the years are Woodworking, Metalworking, Calligraphy, Personal Finance, Drafting, Jewelry, Business and Street Law, and Home Ec. Many of these options were helpful or interesting to students in previous years. When told of the previous classes, Ani mentioned the applicability of a Personal Finance class. “I think personal finance is pretty important, because being able to handle yourself financially, that’s a skill, it’s something you learn. It’d be pretty cool to learn that in school.” Teachers and faculty also miss the courses. Ms. Moe-Burgener, one of the art teachers at MHS, taught many classes over the years that are now out of use. “I would love to have Calligraphy back.” But she thought very practically on the topic of offered electives. “I think new classes are awesome, and there’s all kinds of different things it would be great to offer, but at the expense of what?” To add new electives, old ones must be taken out. Most recently, Pulse Media, a social-media-based class was added back into the school’s offerings, but at the expense of one of the Art 1-2 classes. The school is, in the end, at the mercy of funding.

The electives will be in flux as long as MHS lives, because interests and ability to have certain classes will change. And what classes do students and faculty wish they had? Ms. Krumm stated “I’m a big mental health promoter, I would like to see classes about well-being or how to take care of yourself.” Ani showed interest in bringing back Woodworking and Metalworking. Eliza mentioned bringing back free periods for juniors. Mrs. Moe-Burgener considered “a seperate just Drawing and Painting class” in place of the combined Art courses. I would love to see a podcast-making course. In the end, there are hundreds of students and dozens of faculty members at MHS that have to agree on classes. Milwaukie High School likely has at least a few classes that will satisfy the wide range of interests and needs of its population.