A Time To Engage: Penn Charter Upper School Electives

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Amani R. '22

Electives at Penn Charter provide students with an opportunity to select subjects that they want to learn and explore more deeply. Whichever elective that you choose, you can expect to get extensive hands-on experiences in that class.

With so many offerings, it is apparent that Penn Charter believes that electives such as Observational Drawing can enrich a student’s mind just as much as AP Statistics may. As the countdown to graduation continues to dwindle, I find myself often reminiscing about my experience here. Some of my favorite memories that come to mind are all of the wonderful electives that I have taken throughout my 4 years. Namely: Ceramics, Public Speaking, and Philosophy. 

Public Speaking was my very first elective class, taken in the spring of my freshman year. Public Speaking is a one-semester course that seeks to help students with speaking in front of an audience, giving presentations, and proper speaking etiquette. The course is presentation-based, meaning that we had to complete a range of presentations in different formats. In the course, we had to give an introduction speech, a demonstration speech, and a welcome speech. I walked in with a lot of anxiety and nervous energy, but I did not know that I would be walking out of the classroom on the last day of school with boatloads of confidence and a strong, unwavering voice that would not be shaken no matter what. Juggling several different topics (some of which I did not know affected public speaking), my fellow classmates and I came together every Block 1 and collectively became more comfortable with our voices and frankly, ourselves. After delivering my final informational speech, I sat down with a sense of newfound pride. To this day, I think about Ms. Noone and all that I have learned when I have to speak publicly — and so far, it has worked!

Ceramics is the class I mention when I talk about Penn Charter electives. Ceramics is a one-semester course that lets students experiment with clay pinching, coiling, and slab building. There were several projects in Ceramics that included everything from learning how to make cups to shaping bowls. I walked into Ceramics with one friend, and halfway through the course, it was as if the class had become a group full of best friends who enjoyed each other’s company and making clay sculptures immensely. Who would have thought that making clay pots would bring so many different people from different grades together? It was such a helpful and fun atmosphere, all assisted by Ms. McGee, who found herself drawn in by all the fun we had. Even though I have never been the artsiest student, I was always so excited to go to Ceramics, especially when I was having a hectic week and needed to relax and unwind. To be honest, I think my Ceramics class was the epitome of who Penn Charter is — fun, innovative, and caring. Shoutout to sophomore year Ceramics!

And, last but certainly not least, is my Philosophy class. Philosophy is a full-year class only available to seniors. In this class, students are faced with questions that philosophers have been stumped by for years. It consists mainly of complex discussions and thought-provoking activities. When I signed up for Philosophy, I took a secret vow not to let senioritis get to me. Suffice it to say, Philosophy has not failed to help me ward it off. Every Block 7 is truly another great conversation about philosophical issues, where my classmates and I wrestle with answers to questions and attempt to apply them in a modern-day context. Conversations range from free will to identity, to even deeper topics, such as the existence of God. Most importantly, in Philosophy class, I know my voice is heard and valued — even on days when we are discussing how cool it would be to be reincarnated as a squirrel!

When I leave Penn Charter, I know that all of the electives I have taken during my time here will continue to shape who I am and how I will proceed in the future. For example, as I go into college majoring in Journalism, I know that the support that I received from Ms. Noone in my freshman year Public Speaking class will help me to present articles and information with a strong, confident voice. I know that I will think deeply and differently about topics due to the conversations that were held in my senior year Philosophy class, and maybe I will even seek out more philosophical classes in my college education. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll start a mug-making business and have to rely on the skills I built in my sophomore year Ceramics class. Either way, the electives here wholeheartedly embrace the institution that Penn Charter is: a place that prepares students not only for what may come, but to be the nation’s future leaders, thinkers, collaborators, and innovators.

  • Academics
  • Upper School

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