With curriculum and course additions and updates for the 2018-19 school year, Farragut High School is striving to surpass its own record-setting academic accomplishments.
“I would call last year probably our most successful year academically in the history of the school,” FHS principal Ryan Siebe said about 2017-18. “Fifteen National Merit Finalists; at one time there were over 10 perfect ACT (scores) in the building; $34 million in scholarships.
“All of these are school records,” he added.
Student demand, as dictated last February when courses for this school year were being chosen, is the biggest driving force for new elective courses.
Adding three new teacher positions also helps make course expansion possible, with FHS now “more than 100 overall,” which includes 15 new teachers for the coming school year.
“The new teaching positions are a result of FHS’s enrollment increase, set to go up more than 100, increasing the overall enrollment to an estimated 1,896,” Siebe said.
Most of the following new and expanded course offerings have full classes, meaning at least 35 students are enrolled for that given class — some near 70 students.
• Geology, two sections
• Advanced Placement Physics II: “We took on AP Physics I last year and it was very successful,” said Candace Greer, FHS curriculum principal.
• Honors Environmental Science: “What’s good about this is we have a pretty strong AP Environmental Science program,” Greer said. “So this will be a good feeder class.”
• Honors Scientific Research: “That’s where our Science Academy students will continue in their research pursuits; they’ll partner with area labs, ORNL, UT,” Greer said.
Career Technical Education/Criminal Justice
• Pre-Law (Angela Fisher, teacher): “We have a practicing attorney who’ll be teaching that course,” Greer said about Fisher.
• Science Fiction (Mleeka Houston, teacher) and Mythology (several teachers): “I’m excited about the Science Fiction class, I’ve had a chance to peek at some of the course work that they’re going to be doing, and they’re going to be covering a whole lot of different areas of science fiction I think the students will be interested in,” Greer said.
• Combined Studies course for sophomores: “We added, for the sophomores, Honors English II with the AP Seminar class,” Greer said. “The AP Seminar class was new to us last year. It’s part of a two-course sequence that composes the AP Capstone program. … I believe it’s between 60 and 70 students enrolled for that class.”
• AP Research Class (Brad Smith, teacher): “It’s the second part of the AP Capstone class,” Greer said. “They select a topic of their choosing, they partner with an industry or subject area expert and they conduct in-depth research, primary-source research in that field.”
• General Music (Marquis Dotson, teacher): “Our new chorus teacher (Dotson) is going to be teaching (this) class for those students who kind of want to get their feet wet and experience music,” Greer said. “It’s going to be treated like a survey of music, go through early music all the way into modern music.”
• AP Micro Economics (Chris Cool, teacher): “We’ve taught AP Macro Economics for quite some time, so micro is an expansion,” Greer said.
• For the first time, Computer Science Principles and Computer Science A will be offered in the same school year.
• “Latin 3 and Latin 3 Honors have been brought back after being offered in previous years,” Siebe said.
Brenda McGrath, retired math teacher, returns to FHS as a part-time testing coordinator.
New administrators under Siebe are Anita Johnson, Class of 2022 principal (a former teacher at Bearden High School who most recently was an administrator at Hardin Valley Academy and Austin-East high schools) and Steve Killian, Class of 2019 principal (former athletic director at West High School).