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Westlake's 'Wheel' Allows Creative Exploration

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – A sequence of new courses have been put in place in Westlake High School that should allow ninth grade students to get a better understanding of the academic and professional route they want to pursue in the future.Westlake Principal Keith Schenker refers to the courses as the "wheel," and he believes that can play a major role in a student's education."These courses can lead to future course sequences or sort of like a major in high school," Schenker said. "So if a student says 'I really want computer science', they can take the proper courses to give themselves a good enough foundation for when they apply to colleges,"As part of 'The Wheel', each freshman is required to take a freshman seminar course in either quarter one or two of the school year. Then, the students can choose three out of seven enrichment courses to fill out the rest of the year's schedule. The quarter-long courses range in topics, such as art, speech and debate, and creative research.Also the niche courses can help a student find a career or goal they want to pursue. Schenker said the freshman seminar course is key in general development."It really gets the students starting to think about their future direction, their college opportunities, how they market themselves," Schenker said. "All that is woven into a 10-week experience,"Superintendent Dr. Susan Guiney said the program allows students to experience areas of school that they may not have been able to previously."They can explore areas that they may never have before and to engender passion for something that will ignite a real interest that may lead to a career path or further study," Guiney said.Though this is the only model of its type within the Mount Pleasant Central School District, Guiney said she hopes to instill the same type of creative exploration throughout the schools and various grades.

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