All You Can Learn


Photo by: Molly DeHaven

From a new social studies elective surrounding the appreciation of Latin American culture to a class composed entirely of analyzing films, the 2022-2023 school year is set to be packed with seven new electives for students to choose from.

If you have always dreamed of becoming a broadcast journalist or learning the meaning behind songs, next school year is your time to shine. For students who will be enrolled at Potomac Falls next year, there are set to be seven new electives geared towards an array of interests. Here is a brief breakdown of them all:

1. AP Computer Science Principles 

Get the opportunity to solve some of the most advanced problems in the world using technology, perhaps predicting the next hurricane or programming the next best search engine in AP Computer Science Principles. “Half of this class is devoted to programming in JavaScript and the other half is various computer science topics such as big data, global implications, cyber security, and the internet. No coding experience is required and is great for students who want an introduction to computers and programming,” said math teacher Dave Conolly, who will be teaching the class next year. Next year will be the first year that the course is offered in Loudoun County, meaning that this will be a unique and modem learning experience for students who choose to take it. Students are expected to have a good understanding of Algebra I and should be passionate, critical, and creative thinkers. “[Computer science] can branch across so many different content areas, and I am excited to see how the students will use their creativity to apply what they learn,” added Conolly. 

2. Broadcast Journalism

Have you ever been interested in learning about how mass media news outlets run? How the scriptwriters, anchors, and reporters keep you filled in with the latest and most reliable information? Broadcast Journalism is a class that offers “360-video production, so some students may conceptualize the videos and act as project managers, some will be in front of the camera on screen, some will be behind, [and] some will edit. Everyone will be able to find their place and cater to their strengths,” said Emily Everett, Journalism, Yearbook, and Newsmag adviser, and now the teacher for Broadcast Journalism as well. students will be responsible for creating segments for Feature Friday, the school’s weekly updated video production. By taking the Broadcast Journalism elective, you can be expected to learn more about media publication, as well as different areas of social media and design. Students credit their interest in taking the class to “help gain confidence in public speaking and interviewing,” said junior Madina Karimi. 

3. DE Music Appreciation

A class like no other, DE Music Appreciation will explore the composition, techniques, and forms that were used to make some of the most influential music pieces. Students will be able to “Listen to music from the Medieval Era to Taylor Swift and Rihanna,” said William Wells, a music teacher and future DE music appreciation teacher. The process to get this class offered at Potomac Falls has been in the works for nearly four years, with the opportunity to take the class being offered to juniors and seniors. This class may be interesting for those who “enjoy listening to music, discussing how music reflects, and even, affects society, and discovering how trends in music can lead to societal changes,” said Wells. The class has been highly anticipated, as students like junior Matthew Levi have been looking forward to the class being offered since his freshman year. The benefit of taking a DE class is also seen in this class. “This class can boost students’ enthusiasm about music while giving you college credits for free,” said Levi.

4. Lifetime Fitness 

Although Health & P.E. is only a required class in grades 9 and 10, Health & P.E. teacher Misty Keller emphasizes that “your health and wellness journey is important to continue.” In the new elective class, Lifetime Fitness, students will be given the opportunity to expand upon their fitness journeys with a more in-depth fitness curriculum. The class can be described as “a curriculum that allows for student choice and unique opportunities as well as discusses the importance of a balanced mind and body,” said Keller. Unlike the typical P.E curriculum, there will be more of an emphasis on unique activities like golf, rock climbing, yoga, and dance. Keller and fellow Health & P.E. Teacher Jennifer Blair were inspired to advocate for the class to be offered because the class is“another option for a physical education elective that may align more with a student’s interests than what is currently offered,” said Keller.

5. Film Studies 

Among her schedule of teaching various levels of theater and foundations in dance, Corrine Fox will also be teaching the Film Studies class offered next year. Film Studies will be more than just watching movies, although a good portion of the class will include that. The class will take students into the deep world of Hollywood filmmaking and the various job opportunities that are offered on a film set. “I’m interested in teaching it because I hope it appeals to students outside of the theatre program. I am always looking to get more students involved, and I hope this class has a more unique draw,” said Fox. The class has been piloted and developed over the past three years at other schools, but next year will be its debut at Potomac Falls. The class has been received very well by other schools, and Fox hopes that there will be enough enrollment to continue. Students will be able to appreciate “exploring all of the different movie genres, how movies have changed and evolved over time, and the actual film making process,” said Fox. This class is the first of its kind at Potomac Falls, and students will be able to fully immerse themselves in the artform of film. 

6. Survey of Latin American Studies 

A unique learning experience that will be offered within the extensive Social Studies department at Potomac Falls. This class zooms the wide scope of world history into the vastly influential Latin American world. Social Studies teacher Kayla May describes the class as “filling in all the blanks that the other classes have left for Latin America.” May credits her interest in teaching the class to her own Peruvian heritage, and is excited to use her past experience teaching World History I and World History II into teaching an entire class dedicated to the importance of Latin American History. The class not only looks at the complex history of Latin American countries, but also the cultural impacts, including food, music, and pop culture. Survey of Latin American Studies will allow students to appreciate the distinctive qualities that Latin American countries have. “I have taught World History I and World History II, [and] I always get super excited about my Latin America ‘Days’… so the thought of having an entire class dedicated to just Latin America… I had to be the one who taught it,” added May. 

7. Public Speaking II

A sequel class to the popular semester elective, Public Speaking I, Public Speaking II dives deeper into the skills learned and gives students an opportunity to heighten their public speaking abilities. Jeannie Jens, who has taught public speaking at Potomac Falls for over 10 years, advocated for the class to be offered because “[public speaking] is a semester elective, and at the end of the semester, my students will often ask me if they can continue the course for another semester. My answer was always no because LCPS did not offer the course, however, it has recently been added to the LCPS Program of Studies, so I decided to see if we could include it here at PFHS.” Students will be able to extend upon what they learned in Public Speaking I, and an additional benefit to taking the class is that students will be given the opportunity to speak in front of larger groups than before. The class will also be an outlet for creative freedom. “Students will create podcasts, write their own Ted Talks, and more,” said Jens. Jens hopes that the popularity of Public Speaking I will carry over into Public Speaking II.