Three electives that satisfy three moods

Everyone needs a break from the Dougherty workload, and electives allow students to de-stress between academically challenging courses. With the 2016-2017 school year approaching, here’s three distinct electives that will lighten up student schedules.

Art I

Overall: a relaxing elective, as it allows students who aren’t good at art to try; for beginners; unintimidating

Art I has become increasingly popular over the years due to the diverse skills students acquire. Projects, which are dedicated to understanding a certain of element of art, such as texture, color etc., begin with students learning those concepts. After, class time is spent working on projects, so there is rarely any homework.

Additionally, the elective is a great stress reliever, as senior Ankitha Kaki supports, “I wish I took art junior year so I’d have some time to breathe between my academic classes.”

The classroom environment itself is very aesthetically pleasing, as there are often twinkling lights, floral mobiles and various other decorative objects suspended from the ceiling. Furthermore, teachers Mrs. Nancy Iler and Mrs. Kelsey Wengel, are understanding when it comes to deadlines.

Kaki explains, “We already get a lot of time for our projects, but you can definitely ask them for extensions … because they understand that it takes time to make art look good.”

The only negative, for lack of anything else, is the long trek to the 4000 building.

Principles of Engineering

Overall: a relaxing and mentally engaging elective

In its short history, Principles of Engineering, taught by Mr. Craig Stewart in the Career Tech Center, has earned a reputation as an incredibly engaging, interesting elective with minimal formal homework or assessments. Besides introducing students to the basics of engineering, the course surveys different disciplines, including civil, mechanical and electrical engineering and focuses on their design aspects. The class uses a textbook, but rarely uses it, as information is gathered via short lectures or research in class.

Afterwards, students apply the concepts to various projects, some of which include building a bridge, electric soldering and creating a can crusher. Later in the year, students have the opportunity to experiment with computer-aided 3D design and create objects via a 3D printer. The content looks intimidating, but students do not need extensive math or science knowledge besides basic geometry and algebra 2 to excel in this course. Additionally, 90 percent of the work is done in teams, so there is always someone to help.

Mr. Stewart explains, “People interested in understanding how things are built and designed should take this class. It’s for more than just engineers, but for people who are interested in how things are made and like making things.”

Psychology (AP and regular)

Overall: a mentally engaging


Since Psychology is defined as the study of the human mind and human behavior, these electives offer content that is extremely applicable to our lives. Regular Psychology, taught by Mrs. Jamie Seipel, is a project-based, semester-long course. While there are exams, students  choose which project topics to tackle and learn at a comfortable pace. This way, however, a lot of interesting content is missed, which is why some students opt to take AP Psychology. Although most AP classes are not stress-free, AP Psych’s content and class demonstrations keep students engaged so that they eventually enjoy taking notes and listening to lectures.

Mrs. Melanie Grossheider, an AP Psychology teacher explains, “At the end of every year, I have students fill out an evaluation that asks if they’d prefer fewer lectures and more other things …  every year students say the lectures are helpful.”

AP Psychology teaches students to go beyond memorizing content. For example, test questions often describe a situation, and students must apply a concept to the situation. With so much content to cover in time for the AP test, students read and outline from the textbook for homework most nights and are expected to learn material on their own.

Ultimately, the best part about taking either course is learning real life examples in practice and using this knowledge to improve as a human.