Menlo juniors work on their food lab. Staff photo: Sam Fortenbaugh.
By Sam Fortenbaugh
Menlo does a solid job of offering their students a variety of course options and flexibility for upperclassmen to personalize their schedules, but there are still areas in which it can improve. For example, there are two different physics classes offered for freshman–physics 1 and conceptual physics–and two different chemistry classes offered for sophomores–conceptual and accelerated chemistry–, but there is only one level of biology offered to juniors. Multiple courses allow students to take ownership of their high school education by choosing what they want to study. There are merits to not focusing on just one field during high school, but students can still get a broad education while taking more advanced classes.
Menlo offers Advanced Topics in Biology, a honors-level course, but only seniors can take this class because it requires a pre-requisite. Menlo should add a honors biology class for juniors, so juniors have the option to dive deeper into biology during their junior year. In addition, this could allow the senior class Advanced Topics in Biology to be redesigned so students can learn more in the class. This would allow students who are really interested in biology to learn more biology when they are at Menlo.
In addition, some students feel they are at a disadvantage in biology because they did not take accelerated chemistry as a sophomore. Unit two of biology involves chemistry, so this can result in the students who know more about chemistry having an advantage over those who do not. Those students do have an advantage, but it is a small one because the unit uses mostly basic chemistry knowledge.
“We feel the material [in Biology] is at a level that every junior can handle, regardless of level of chemistry taken,” biology teacher Tanya Buxton said. “We have worked hard on the curriculum so that the class includes material that every student should be exposed to at this stage of their life. Because it isn’t a very quantitative class, unlike the difference in conceptual and accelerated chemistry, students of all math levels can succeed this class,” Buxton said. Buxton’s point is valid, but just because all students can handle the class does not mean that there should not be a more advanced option for students who want a more challenging and accelerated class.
Many juniors agree that two different biology classes would be beneficial. “I think there should be two biology classes offered to juniors,” junior Jake Coslet said. “One class should offer the base knowledge and the other would be similar, but faster with more coverage.”