Among the wide variety of classes MG students will be able to take next year, there will be a number of new courses that students can take for the first time ever. Music Theory, Advanced Physical Education, and Unified Physical Education have been added to expand the music and wellness departments.
Music Theory will be run by either orchestra director Patrick O’Connell or band and chorus director Jacqueline Vinette. It will look more like a course class than an ensemble, and will start off by going over basic music concepts like harmonies and rhythm theories. The students will then delve further into other topics, such as part-writing and different forms of composing.
The difficulty may increase or decrease depending on the students’ musical experiences. Several students have taken Music Theory as an independent study before, and some have even taken it at the AP level.
The course will be added to the curriculum for a variety of reasons. “It was something Mrs. Vinette and I really enjoy learning about and teaching,” said O’Connell, “and it was something that we felt we could add to edify the students who were interested as a complement to the music program.”
The class is also one already offered in many schools in the area, and it will be especially beneficial for students already in a music ensemble. “It’ll help students get a deeper understanding of what they’re playing, of how all of those harmonies work together,” said Vinette.
However, she encourages students to not take Music Theory in place of their ensemble class. “The goal is to develop a deeper understanding of the music that you’re playing,” she said. “By doing it in place of your ensembles, it defeats the purpose in the sense of wanting to align the two classes together.”
Vinette thinks there will be a good turnout of students wanting to join the class. “We had a lot of students who expressed interest in it, especially after the remote learning when we went over it a lot in our ensembles,” she said. “We brought it into Music Lab quite a bit too, and there was definitely a lot of interest there.”
The wellness program is also getting a couple of new additions to the curriculum. Both Advanced PE and Unified PE will be added as alternative PE options.
“Some kids want a more competitive experience, and some kids want a less competitive experience,” said PE Coach Brian Gill, “and there’s value in both, and there’s value in doing all the spectrum of activities that we do.”
Advanced PE will be a little more intense, involving more carefully constructed gameplay, more strategy, and more use and application of various PE skills. The class will be for students who want a more competitive experience, and will have to do more with the style of the game being played than with any athletic ability.
Unified PE, on the other hand, will be for students who want a unique and relaxed experience. The class will be primarily involved in helping students enjoy physical movements and activities. It will take a similar approach to Unified Basketball and Track, which includes students in the special education program and partners.
“It will be set up the same as a standard PE class, where we’re doing warm-ups and skills work and incorporating a lot of different activities and movements,” said wellness teacher Emily McCarthy. But the class will also be very collaborative, with all sorts of students at different skill levels working as a team to participate in these units.
By adding these classes, “we’re trying to provide a more interesting dynamic for the kids on either side of the spectrum of competitive style,” said Gill.
However, it isn’t as if the entire gym class will be moving to one end or the other. According to Gill, “most, I would say 80-90% of our classes, will all still be doing traditional wellness activities with a variety of students and a variety of experiences.”
Still, these three classes are just a few of the wide variety of courses students can take at Mount Greylock. The MGRS wellness and music departments are expanding to offer a large number of potential courses, continuing to adapt and grow to suit student’s interests.