Providing opportunities

Killough campus to offer two new electives


New 2020-21 social studies electives. Courtesy of Elizabeth Gonzalez.

For the 2020-21 school year, the district approved the addition of two new electives which are each half a credit and will be taught for nine weeks. The two courses will be held at Killough and offered to Harmon, Killough and Main students. The school will offer transportation for the students at Harmon and Main who are interested.

The new electives will be Holocaust studies and Latin American studies and will be taught by AP World History teacher Elizabeth Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s interest in teaching about the Holocaust came after traveling to a class in Israel. Though the idea for the Latin American studies class came from Harmon social studies teacher Miriam Calixto, Gonzalez is excited to teach it and talk in depth about the region and the historical background that doesn’t get much attention during AP World History curriculum.

“I took an eight-day class [about] the Holocaust at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem,” Gonzalez said. “There, I was introduced to [an] excellent curriculum offered by Echoes and Reflection, an organization dedicated to bringing Holocaust studies into classrooms. The class has given me the confidence to teach the topic as well as inspired me to tell the powerful stories I heard first hand from Holocaust survivors and experts in the field of Holocaust studies. I have a minor in Mexican-American studies from the University of Houston, so I am really excited to use my expertise in this elective course.”

For Gonzalez, her main concern is for students to not get scared by what happened in the Holocaust but for the class to know what the victims went through. She plans to create activities to keep students interested in the class, learn how the culture was and visit the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. Gonzalez plans to offer a travel opportunity for students to visit the cities impacted by the Holocaust.

“With the Holocaust studies course, it is really important students feel [the] same coming in and leaving the room,” Gonzalez said. “I will not use shock and awe images that inappropriately impact the students. I will implement the strategies I learned this summer in the classroom for the Holocaust studies course. I intend to have a Holocaust survivor visit the classroom. We will also be learning about Jewish culture, so I hope to have a Rabbi speak to us.”

Sophomore Vanessa Hernandez found out about the classes from a friend and has since been interested in the Holocaust studies elective. She hopes to have a better understanding of how people lived during the times of crisis and how the Holocaust happened. After finishing the class, Hernandez wishes to leave with new and important knowledge, making it her number one goal.

“I’m excited to learn things about the Holocaust that might surprise me,” Hernandez said. “Everyone has a bit of basic knowledge about what happened. I’m interested in how people could let such a cruel thing happen to other people and think it was OK to cause a mass genocide.”

Another of Gonzalez’s students, sophomore Joan Martinez, was interested in both electives when Gonzalez first announced them. Though he signed up for both, the elective that stood out to him was Latin American studies due to his interest in the region. He believes with Gonzalez teaching the class, it will be fun and enjoyable.

“I am interested about everything in Latin America, whether it be geography or its history,” Martinez said. “It’s something I enjoy learning about and I’m excited to see what Mrs. Gonzalez has planned [for the class].”

With new electives coming at a fast rate, Hernandez believes the district is giving students an opportunity to enjoy high school and not be stressed all the time. As the years go on, students believe there is a possibility in the future for more electives being added and a chance for students to discover new interests and pursue their passions.

“The fact that the district is adding new courses to schools is very awesome,” Hernandez said. “It shows they think about us students and they try to help us find things we enjoy doing and not just give us the required classes. I believe there will be many more new courses to come.”