Branson consolidates history and English electives to fit the new schedule

By Natalie Wendt

Branson consolidated this year’s History and English elective offerings for juniors and seniors to better accommodate the new schedule and cohort system.


The whole junior class now takes the same history seminar, Justice, and one of two fall English offerings: Reconstructing Myth or Reimagining the Self. In the spring, juniors will either take American Transcendentalism or Graphic Narratives.


The history department divided the seminar for seniors into two semesters: American Politics in the fall and Economics in the spring. For English, they take either African American Autobiography or Immigrant Stories in the fall and either Shakespeare in the 21st Century or Encountering Beauty in the spring.


“For history, it was pretty clear at the beginning of the summer that we were not going to be able to do all these great seminars that we had designed,” said Whitney Livermore, one of the teachers of Justice seminar. “Whatever new schedule that was going to come out wasn’t going to allow for you as students to have that much variety in your courses and we knew that it would be easier for history to adjust and figure it out than it would be for languages, math or art … Something had to give.”


The history and English departments selected to offer the classes with the most interest from students indicated by course sign ups, except for the Justice seminar, which was created by combining topics from multiple existing history offerings.


“For the junior class, we kind of invented a whole new [seminar] to try to include a bunch,” said Livermore. “We made a really big umbrella so everyone can fit under it.”


Junior and senior history teachers are building in more choice to the courses, aiming to engage students who initially signed up for several different History electives.


“Sometimes that means individual choice where each person picks their own topic, and other times, it’s the class determining the direction based on what the group is interested in,” said Livermore. “It feels like a much more flexible path.”


At first, some students were disappointed that there would not be the same wide selection of classes they signed up for in the spring. However, students also recognize and appreciate the amount of choice they have this year within their electives.


“I was excited about getting to pick my history and English electives this year. However, both my history class, which is Justice, and English class, which is Reconstructing Myth, have been very interesting and engaging so far,” said Cici Dedyo, a junior. “I think that both classes have provided me the opportunity to choose topics that interest me, especially in Justice, wherein this recent cycle, I had multiple opportunities to research current event topics that I was interested in.”


While students enjoy the emphasis on choice within their electives, juniors are hoping that next year, Branson can again offer a broader range of history and English classes.


“I hope that we can return to the class variety that we had in previous years. In the future, I would like to have that freedom of choice that I didn’t get this year,” said Will Tolmie, a junior.