New Courses and “Vibes” for Saints

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Brooklyn Bergmann

More stories from Brooklyn Bergmann

Coachella ’19
May 15, 2019
Information surrounds students in Mr. Larsson's classroom.

Information surrounds students in Mr. Larsson's classroom.

Xavier is a community always looking for new opportunities. Last Spring, a couple classes were added to the students’ schedule choices. The teachers gathered at a meeting to figure out what could be offered for this year’s 2018-2019 curricula. Four faculty members are teaching new courses this year at Xavier. Mr.Larsson is teaching United States History through Popular Culture, Mr.Byrne teaching Literature, Film, and Composition, Mr.Sendejo teaching A+ Certification Training, and Ms.Eldridge teaching Introduction to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature. Each class has helped strengthen Xavier’s academic program by adding new opportunities for the Saints. Two teachers are highlighted in this article.

Mr. Byrne was interviewed to gain his thoughts about his new course. In his entire teaching career, this is the first time he has taught Seniors. He’s always taught Sophomores and Juniors in high school. Mr. Byrne described it as being, “A different vibe.”  He said he understands that for some of his students (next semester) his course will be the last English class before graduation. He’ll keep that in mind and thinks the content will be such that he can still engage with them. Mr. Byrne is delighted to blend different genres of film and books to inspire them. It’s a good transition from what was on the written page versus what people can actually visualize. He believes, “ In the 21st century with so many videos that are being produced, it’s important that students are able to see what has inspired filmmakers and where we get the great arches and the great types of stories we tend to watch.” He has twenty students this semester and gets a change next semester.

Mr. Byrne expresses the Grad at Grads through the films he shows in class and through his everyday teaching. He has taught his students about the book ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad and the film ‘Apocalypse Now’ by Francis Ford Coppola that is an adaptation of the book. Mr. Byrne shared, “It goes to the heart of social justice and one of three types of horror films including personality disorder. It’s something that no matter what time period people live in you can understand the effects upon imperialism and what people have done in history in attempts to rule and take over the entire culture and subject people to inhumane treatments. By seeing this, people will become aware of what has happened so if they see this behavior happen again they can do something about it.” Mr.Byrne hopes to continue teaching a Senior class. It brings a balance and energy to his work with Xavier students.

The second teacher interviewed was Mr.Larsson. He taught a Senior psychology course at his last school so he knows what Seniors may be considering in their last year in high school. Mr. Larsson started his first year at Xavier teaching a majority of the Sophomores, so he’s glad he has the privilege to teach them once again as Seniors. He said, “I remember when many of them entered my classroom as gentle, naive 10th Graders. Now I get to teach them and discuss more mature, heavier, and complex topics. Don’t get me wrong – this senior class suffers from a touch of ‘senioritis’ like all other groups, though.”

Despite the ‘senioritis’, Mr. Larsson is glad to walk with Seniors through these last couple of months here at Xavier. His course United States History through Pop Culture was a Senior elective he authored. He wanted his students to go a little deeper with U.S. culture. In his second semester, he is gathering a couple of pieces that include studying the music, film, and television of the past century to better grasp what it means to be American.

He has twenty-five students in this course right now. He wants them to focus on, “How does popular culture in 2018 reflect our values and interests as Americans?” Mr. Larrson believes, “In order to best understand ourselves, we need to understand how we consume culture and enjoy our daily lives. Historians in 2218 will be asking the same question about us long after we’re no longer around.” He expresses his Grad at Grads through heroism, selflessness, innovation, and compassion through U.S history. He allows his students to find out who they really are through the cruel parts of history and learn from it. He wants his students to be prepared for what college courses will be like considering Xavier is a College Preparatory school.

As for the other teachers offering new courses, Ms.Eldridge and Mr.Sendejo, they are always open to questions by anyone–faculty, family, and students. They encourage interest in their courses which, like Mr. Byrne’s and Mr. Larsson’s, were created with student interests in mind. Xavier encourages students to be open to new classes and electives which are offered every year. If you have an idea about a new course you think might be a good fit for Xavier, find a teacher and pitch it!  Xavier is a place for up to date and relevant learning takes place. You can help design what is offered.

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