Junior Student Development
They will be asked to perform as more critical thinkers, more active learners, and more independent and responsible citizens
A wholesome self-assurance distinguishes most sixteen-year-olds. The adults they are becoming are more evident with each passing day. Intellectually, the high school junior's mind is more ordered and under better control than it has ever been.
Socially, their world revolves around friends much more than around the family. This movement away from the family circle is simply part of the process of maturing; and family relationships often improve. There are usually fewer arguments with their parents or siblings.
Mutual interests or activities (music, sports, even academics) determine friendships. Often mixed groups are common, especially where there are shared interests in an undertaking like the spring musical or swimming season. By this age, most of the boys and girls are dating.
A greater sense of responsibility reveals itself in juniors in a number of ways. Many work, most drive, and all of them are beginning to look to the future. Some will have well-charted plans for life after high school but most of their plans are still in an embryonic stage.
Academically, the junior year is usually the most demanding. Both the difficulty and quantity of work increases, often, it seems, exponentially. Though they are usually well prepared to handle the new demands, sixteen-year-olds occasionally need reassurance and encouragement.
They also need careful, though not heavy-handed, monitoring. By this age, most students have established the work habits and self-motivation to do what it takes to complete a task. Nevertheless, there are times when they fall short and parents need to be sensitive to that possibility.
Students in English III continue their emphasis on reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Vocabulary development, including word analysis, fluency and usage continues to be emphasized, with a focus on preparation for national and state standardized tests. Study of literature revolves around significant American works such as Huck Finn, The Crucible, The Great Gatsby and A Farewell to Arms. Reading comprehension and analysis of patterns, arguments, and positions advanced will be the focus of study. Students also read functional material such as magazines, newspapers, and on-line information.
Writing skills focus on demonstrating awareness of audience and purpose, and will include examples of argumentation, literary analysis (both fiction and non-fiction) and exploration of American authors, including their historical significance. Research skills are integrated throughout the writing genres. Emphasis is placed on coherent and focused writing that conveys a well-defined perspective and tightly reasoned argument. Incorporated into writing units is the study of grammar, usage and mechanics of language.
Students will apply listening and speaking skills as they analyze various media and make oral and multi-media presentations. Students will study speech and multi-media strategies through analysis of current and historical oral and visual communications in order to produce presentations of their own.
A junior's placement in the mathematics sequence depends upon individual aptitude and past performance. Most have moved to the more abstract realms of algebra or geometry. By this year, the advanced student has a choice of more challenging math courses, including both levels of advanced placement calculus. In all cases, the philosophy of the mathematics curriculum is to enable the student to reach the highest possible level of proficiency in mathematical reasoning.
The science curriculum mirrors that of mathematics in many aspects during the junior year. Aptitude and past performance determine the student's course of study. However, since science students are required to complete ten units of study in physical science and in any other science courses, many students' science programs for this year will reflect the need to complete this graduation requirement.
All science classes, including advanced placement courses, are available to advanced students who have fulfilled the prerequisites. Some prerequisites will include a given level of proficiency in mathematics. For instance, enrollment in AP Physics is possible only if the student is concurrently enrolled in Course II or Calculus.
All students take U.S. History as part of their core curriculum in the junior year. In this course they study the political, social, cultural, and economic history of the United States. The class spends time reviewing the Constitutional period, the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the Gilded Age. However, the emphasis is on the historical period from 1900 to the present.
Students develop of research and writing skills that give them the active experience of working as historians with primary sources and developing explanations and interpretations of events.
A greater sense of responsibility reveals itself in juniors in a number of ways. Many work, most drive, and all of them are beginning to look to the future.
The number of electives available to juniors is much greater than it was for ninth and tenth graders. Upper level courses like physiology and anatomy in science and psychology in social science are now included among the choices. Advanced courses in photography or wood shop, in business math or computerized accounting, and advanced art or history reflect the diverse and sophisticated paths students may pursue.
The junior year is often a turning point for students interested in beginning career paths. Many juniors, either college bound or career bound directly after high school, elect to attend classes offered by the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) to prepare themselves with workplace employment skills. ROP offers many career paths (with several course offerings in each path) that prepare students for work and arm them with the experience and technical skills necessary to find and keep employment. ROP is not limited to teaching job entry skills but gives students the technology and work experience that empowers life long learning and career growth. Career paths include the medical and health professions, computer repair, telecommunications, banking, retail sales, child care, automotive technology, computer assisted drawing (CAD), and marketing among many.
Also, electives allow students who are otherwise taking very demanding academic courses to have a pleasant change of pace in their daily routine. Whether it's the fascination of photography, the power of desktop publishing, or the satisfaction of creating a work of art in ceramics, electives allow students to sample areas of interest and to experience a side of themselves that is not always possible in core academic classes.
In this sense students use electives in two ways - to explore unknown territory in the curriculum and to define and refine career paths.
For most students the junior year is critical. Perhaps at no other time are they so intensely involved in the entire high school program: in academics, in co-curricular activities, and in the social whirl. Though they still have required courses, juniors find themselves with more choices and greater flexibility as they decide on their paths to the future. They also have more independence.
However, with increased independence comes a heavier burden of responsibility. Academically, they will face challenges greater than any before. They will be asked to perform as more critical thinkers, more active learners, and more independent and responsible citizens.
Of paramount importance at this time is the reinforcement of the values and qualities they have learned at home: hard work, integrity, self-discipline, respect and tolerance for others, and personal responsibility. Their newly acquired knowledge and skills are powerful tools, but they become even more so when they are part and parcel of the development of the student's character.