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Cool and Unique Classes: Arts & Language Arts

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By Robert Villanueva

Area high school students have educational options that span the ages from ancient world mythology to modern digital art.

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Fort Knox High School has the Department of Defense Education Activity to thank for the computer art class taught by Karl Olive.

“Actually, someone at DoDEA headquarters in Washington felt that it would be good to offer a computer art course as a means of integrating technology into the classroom,” Olive said.

The class, he said, provides a means for students to develop their skills with a variety of digital media.

Media and technology used in the class include seven PCs, six Macs with pen tablets, a scanner, laser printer, four digital cameras and a digital camcorder.  Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are software programs used in Olive’s class.

“Students are also responsible for creating projects that incorporate the various applications that have been mastered,” Olive said.

One example the teacher cited was the logo for Mudge Elementary School, which the students created.

“I am currently taking this class, and I enjoy computers and art,” FKHS junior Andre' Wingate said. “I figured that putting them together would be a neat experience and something new to try.”

Wingate said he enjoyed the “loose atmosphere” of the class and collaborating with fellow classmates on lessons and projects.

Like Wingate, FKHS junior Shane Duncan took the class because it merged his interests of “computer and computer applications with artistic styles of drawing.”

“I enjoyed the interaction with other students while learning computer drawing and editing,” Duncan said.

Though the class is an elective, students must take Fundamentals of Art prior to taking Computer Art, Olive said. He said a class like Computer Art “broadens their horizons and expands their learning.”

“For example, students who take the class have a much better understanding and appreciation of the impact graphic design and illustration have on everyday life,” Olive said. “In addition, they see graphic design as a viable career possibility.”

For students more interested in subject matter rooted in lore and ancient culture, classes such as World Mythology, taught by Angie Davis at Central Hardin High School, are available. Students delve into the mythologies of Native Americans, Africans, Egyptians and Arabians. The class also includes the mythologies of King Arthur and Star Wars.

“It is important that students are able to understand different cultures, belief systems, and make connections between cultures and belief systems,” Davis said. “Also, various allusions to mythology are made in our everyday life.  It is important that students understand the significance of those allusions.”

Any student can take the class as an elective, and the subject matter seems to interest students, Davis said. When there are projects and discussions “students always want to participate,” she said.

That’s the case for CHHS senior Krystal Charles.

“I enjoyed the studying of myths, to be able to determine where something came from and how long it was there,” Charles said.

Charles said the subject has always fascinated her, and she is amazed at how long a stroy can survive.

For freshman Dan Trethaway, the draw of the class was “learning about all of the different cultures around the world.”

“I've always been interested in that kind of stuff,” Trethaway said. He cited Egyptian culture and mythology as his favorite.

Senior Emily Pendergrast developed an interest in the class after taking a class on Greek and Roman mythology. She is currently taking World Mythology.

“I find this class extremely interesting and would love to take more electives pertaining to this subject,” Pendergrast said.

Patrick Schirmer, a senior, always had an interest in mythology and took the class his junior year.

"I took the initiative to further my education in it," he said.

Megan Chandler, a senior, was also attracted by the subject matter and “the whole aspect of learning new things about gods or mythical beings that were heroes in some old tale.”

Teachers believe cool and unique classes are beneficial to students.

“Classes such as world mythology are more laid back and fun,” Davis said.

Though expectations are high, the class and assignments are formatted differently, she said.

“I think students definitely like a change of pace from the typical classroom setting,” Olive said. “I think it might make them more willing to think outside the box, branch out, and take new approaches to challenges.”

Davis said classes like world mythology appeal to diverse interests.

“Some students realize that the myths class gives them more background, which enables them to achieve a great understanding of various cultures and literatures,” Davis said. “Others think that learning about ancient cultures is just fun.”

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 and rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.