By Becky Tunis
Have you ever wished there were an entire class devoted to a topic of your choosing? By participating in the independent study program at WHS, students can make this wish a reality.
The program allows students to design their own curriculum centering around an academic subject of their choice. According to the WHS Course of Studies, the program exists “in order to provide students of exceptional ability and talent with special programs and services.”
While the concept of an independent study may seem too good to be true, students who wish to participate in the program must undergo five steps to have their curriculum approved.
After consulting with their guidance counselors about their proposals, students must seek input from teachers and the department chair from their area of study.
Once students have the support of their guidance counselors and parents, they must present their proposal to the principal for final approval, according to the course description.
The selection of a teacher mentor is vital for the success of the student’s project. Students typically choose to work with a teacher they had in the past, as a “reciprocal interest between student and teacher [has already been formed],” said Guidance Counselor Andrew Buckner.
Senior Leonidas Tolias chose to work on his German language independent study with German Teacher Ms. Christiane Friedlander, after having her as a teacher for two years.
While Tolias chose to pursue an independent study because a scheduling conflict prevented him from taking the class, other students take independent studies to pursue a unique interest.
Senior Brandon Vassallo is currently studying graphic design as an independent study project with his mentor, Art Teacher Mr. Roy Chambers. Vassallo said he is developing his own clothing brand, including a website and logo.
Vassallo added that he took an independent study in order to further his passion for art while earning academic credits.
Said Vassallo: “So far, it has been a great experience, and I have been able to achieve a lot in the time I have, both in school and out.... I learn something new every day in my independent study period.”