The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 6, 2014

New classes help GRA students better prepare for demands of college


For the Star Beacon

AUSTINBURG TOWNSHIP — With the first half of the year over, and midterms complete, Grand River Academy starts off the second semester with new students and new classes. Students have completely new schedules, and those that signed up are participating in the newly created electives that are being offered.

In the science department, headed by Alan Kovacik, classes Generation X, organic chemistry, forensics and anatomy are being offered. Generation X, taught by first year teacher Stephen Sullivan, is a course on the application of physics and chemistry in the 21st century. It is focused primarily on green energy and its potential widespread use.

Kovacik is teaching a college-prep class, organic chemistry. He said he was inspired to teach the class when he was discussing college classes that current seniors might be taking next year. When students mentioned they were interested in pursuing degrees that required taking organic chemistry, noting how challenging these classes are and the confusion many of students face when taking classes they are not taught in most high schools, Mr. Kovacik sprang to create the class, and the next spring was teaching it in his classroom.

Several new media classes are being added to Mark Kaschak's media department as well. Videography, music history and music theory were taught last semester at Grand River; this semester, contemporary performance has been added. Contemporary performance is a music based class where students learn how to compose and create modern musical arrangements for public performance. One of the requirements for the class is that students spend time writing and fully organizing instrumental parts for modern songs.

Grant Huffman, a senior at the academy, said, “Music performance gives us the opportunity to learn and grow as musicians, bettering our song writing and performance ability.”

The class focuses on students’ songwriting just as much their performance, moving them past “jamming” to a more structured composition.

The English department has added three new courses. Joshua Hartz is teaching two exciting courses, “American Horrors,” including literature by Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, and “Heroes and Heroines” with classics such as Beowulf. Sarah Carrel is teaching sportswriter, Mitch Albom’s inspirational novels, such as “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

The social studies department has adopted two courses including a class focusing on African American studies taught by David Crowell and American wars taught by Larry Wilson.

Grand River Academy has a rolling admissions, meaning that it will accept students who apply at any time of year. The start of the semester means that plenty of new transfer students are arriving. While some of these students are from the northeastern Ohio area, many are also from out-of-state or even out of the country. Many international students and teachers have never seen snow before, and this year’s record setting low temperatures was a particularly cold surprise. Despite this weather, the students and teachers never missed one day and continued to learn all the new and exciting information.