The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

Electives are the basis of an engaged and enthusiastic student body

Srivas Arun
The looming budget cuts to WPS could impact plans students have for the courses they hope to take.

From dissecting organisms to writing critiques, electives are undeniably one of the most important aspects of Westford Academy. The numerous topics students are able to explore not only add character to WA, but also provide students with the opportunity to find subjects that they are passionate about. Without electives, having a motivated, interested student body is not possible.

Due to budget cuts Westford and many other towns in Massachusetts are currently facing, schools have been forced to cut down on student opportunities. One aspect of high school that may be significantly impacted are electives. However, electives are an integral part of every student’s high school experience, and can determine the success of a student after graduating.

The most clear benefit of electives is their ability to expose students to niche topics they may end up being interested in pursuing. Required classes such as Biology, English, and U.S. History are great bases to jump off of when being introduced to subjects, but many students are still not certain whether or not they want to continue learning about the topic beyond their completion of the course.

“Our core classes are great for basics and elevating your skills in those certain specific, tested areas,” senior Natalie Strauss said. “But electives are really where you get to flourish as your own individual and if students don’t get that chance it’s really a total waste of opportunities.”

Electives allow students to explore the topics that interest them in a deeper, more meaningful way, and they often allow for a more hands-on, involved experience with the topic. For many science electives including Human Anatomy, Marine Biology, and the AP sciences, students are given the opportunity to participate in dissections and labs similar to the procedures scientists in the workforce partake in. Moreover, in electives such as Creative Writing, classmates present and critique each other’s work and are able to practice creating their own works of writing.

Although internships and workshops can provide similar experiences, students would face a multitude of obstacle to achieve the same experience including financial costs, transportation, and taking time away from other hobbies. Offering electives at the high school level is the best way to make the information and experiences accessible to all students.

Establishing confidence in a college major is also an important benefit of electives. Colleges are infamous for their high tuition and the debt graduates often carry with them long into their adult lives. The issue becomes much worse when unprepared students sign up for a major they think they are interested in, only to realize that three semesters in, they enjoy another area of focus much more.

“If you don’t know what you want to do and you pick the wrong school or the wrong fit, that’s a huge life adjustment,” Creative Writing teacher Jason Humphrey said. “The insight [from electives] can then allow them to make really informed decisions about what school they’re going to invest 10’s of 1000’s of dollars in over four years.”

By taking the variety of electives currently offered at WA, students can gain confidence in the topics they are interested in and eliminate topics they realize they are not passionate about, helping prepare for their future. 

“You just have more opportunities to find your true passion, and none of the pressures and stress of college and expectations of college that comes from the sheer expense,” Marine Biology and Environmental Science teacher Jennifer Girardi said. “So here it’s just an atmosphere I think where you’re more inclined to find your true self.”

Having the benefit of electives from multiple subjects to choose from also allows students to develop second and third topics to pursue if their first choice becomes too difficult or they realize they are more interested in another field. WA’s personalized course selections allow for a student interested in multiple subjects to take varied courses, therefore providing them with a basis to switch to one of the other subjects they are interested in more easily. Developing different interests early on can also introduce new hobbies that can relieve stress.

“It’ll help to gauge your interests if you’re not interested in something. I took guitar for one elective and I really didn’t like it in the beginning,” Strauss said. “[but] by the end I loved guitar, like guitar was something I would really like to continue pursuing, which it doesn’t even have to do with [my major].”

Even for students who are not planning to attend a college after high school, electives teach impactful lessons that students carry with them through their day to day lives. In English electives, students learn how to process powerful emotions through writing and experience sharing and discussing their work with others confidently. Finance and management electives offered at WA are useful no matter what subjects a student is interested in.

“This is your chance to expose yourself to as many different diverse topics as possible and really just expand who you are as a human […] It’s all going to help you make decisions on where you want to live, what philosophies you buy into, what type of family you want,” Girardi said. “It’s a lot lower stakes in terms of your commitment and money. I think there’s nothing but benefits that come from that.”

The knowledge that the various electives at WA provide students prepare them for a world of uncertainty where critical thinking, social maturity, and planning for the future are keys for success. Cutting electives will damage students’ ability to move forward into a complicated world and harm their sense of independence and self-assurance.

“I try to make it more of writing how creative writing can fit into a person’s life, from an emotional perspective. Kind of processing issues, trauma, and celebrations,” Humphrey said. “So I try to think of creative writing as being a part of a person’s life rather than a person’s occupation.”

All of this circles around one of the best parts of electives: they are often the most lively and engaging parts of our day. From classes focused on each art form to classes learning what makes us who we are, electives are a big reason why after getting three hours of sleep each day, lugging a backpack up and down stairs, and barely finishing homework on time, students are still passionate about school. 

A mass removal of electives will not only lead to an unprepared student body, but also a significantly less engaged one. Although they can be a bigger investment and cater to fewer students, electives are what make a student body enthusiastic and diverse. If that is what WA and Westford truly strive for, maintaining our variety of electives should be the foremost priority.

“It’s one of those things you get what you pay for. If the town is willing to pay for a top notch, quality education, electives are a big part of that,” Humphrey said. “If we restrict the budget, if we curtail what we’re offering, we’re still going to be offering a top quality education, but it’s not going to be able to tailor fit the students as much as what electives can provide.”

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About the Contributor
Srivas Arun
Srivas Arun, News Editor
Hello! My name is Srivas Arun and I am currently a sophomore  and a co-news editor for the Ghostwriter. You can find me on the cross country and track teams year round. I am interested in spreading information to the student body about WA and its community.

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