New Year, New Courses, New You: A look into the 11 additions to the 2023-2024 Program of Studies


Sophia Liu/Art Director

Julia Bouchut and Diya Chawla

“Seeing kids discover what makes them passionate is something that really excites me about the courses that we’re offering,” Computer Science and Engineering Department Chair Dr. James Gaines said. “Hopefully, as time goes on, we’ll have even more classes to widen the scope of our offerings.”

The Program of Studies, released annually in April, describes the 187 course offerings that students can select for the upcoming school year. For the 2023-2024 year, the school will offer 11 new courses, from half-credits such as Music of NYC and the Birth of Disco, Punk, and Hip-Hop, to full-credit additions like LGBT American History. These new classes allow students to explore diverse areas of interest and dive into subjects previously missing from the school’s course options.

Five of the new offerings are rebranded Computer Science classes. The new classes Ethical Hacking and Network Penetration and Mac iOS & iOS Development will teach students how to adapt to the modern world through understanding networks and software creation, Gaines said. For Mac iOS & iOS Development, students have the opportunity to release an app in the macOS store, he said. Gaines hopes that these new courses will offer students more paths to pursue their passions, he said. “Computer science is super fun, and it clearly is the world around us,” Gaines said. “Just getting kids to come in at any entry point is really exciting.”

In another effort to build upon pre-existing classes, Dr. Alicia DeMaio will teach the new 300 level history course LGBT American History to supplement the 10th grade U.S. History class, she said. By examining primary sources, the class will explore the history of queer people within the United States from the first colonies to the modern world, she said. “Queer people have always existed, and they’ve always been around,” DeMaio said, “It’s just that the way we talk about them and the way we’ve seen them and the way we understand their lives have changed.”

One of the two new science courses, Chemistry, Consumerism, and Citizenship, will be taught by UD science teacher Lauren McGinty. The class will study Chemistry not only as a lab science, but also as a factor which impacts people’s everyday lives, McGinty said.

Niki Pande (10) is interested in taking Chemistry, Consumerism, and Citizenship her senior year, as it focuses more on a humanities-related aspect of science, she said. After speaking with McGinty, she learned that the course work would resemble the nuclear energy and water pollution projects she enjoyed in 10th grade, she said. “I’m able to develop more skills that I can use in the real world.”

The other course in the science offerings, Astronomy: From Black Holes to Supernovae, will expand upon topics covered in traditional Physics class such as nuclear reactions and electromagnetic waves, UD science teacher, Dr. E. Jane Wesely said.

Music teacher Nathan Hetherington hopes to bring a more modern and local perspective to the history of music through his 200 level course, Music of NYC and the Birth of Disco, Punk, and Hip-Hop, he said. The course will look into the origins and popularization of disco, punk, and hip-hop and examine the scene, circumstances, and culture surrounding these genres, he said. “All three genres were also created by underrepresented communities,” Hetherington said. “It’s the kind of thing that’s easy to lose sight of, where [music genres] actually came from, and how they affect what we do today.”

The new 400-level Seminar in Literary Studies (SLS) Interactive Literature class will examine the interactions between classic text and multimedia works, English teacher Dr. Jonathan Kotchian said. “Students will have to take an existing work of literature and adapt it into an interactive format,” he said. “For example, a computer game, where players can choose their own adventure with these texts.”

Stephanie Lee (11) wants to take the Interactive Literature Course next school year because she is interested in examining digital texts like in video games, she said. “What really stood out to me was that it’s very different from your standard English class, since we’re dealing with all types of literature,” she said. Lee is also excited to code her own interactive text as a part of the curriculum, she said.

For McGinty, the concept of Chemistry, Consumerism, and Citizenship arose as a way to counter students’ negative perceptions of chemistry as a subject, she said.“I think there are so many students who, after 10th grade, don’t necessarily want to pursue chemistry after that, but the class allows them to learn how chemistry is extremely useful in our society.”

While DeMaio has already come up with a basic structure for LGBT American History, including fragments of LGBT history from the United States History class, such as the 1950s Lavender Scare, she has yet to create her individual lesson plans, she said. “I’m really excited as part of my project this summer to read even more books than I’ve already read, and collect primary sources.”

Some students, like Michael Rubinov (10), are drawn to certain courses because of its teacher. “A part of the appeal is the fact that he’s actually the one teaching these courses,” he said “Dr. Gaines is a wonderful teacher.”

Gaines is eager to begin teaching his new course, he said. In his Seminar Class, Gaines has already been test-running ethical hacking and iOS development with his students, he said. In doing so, he has been able to see what students want to learn specifically and their responses to the new content, he said. “We’ve been pilot testing some of it and it was really fun and successful for kids.”

DeMaio hopes that her course can create a safe space for queer-identifying students to further connect with their identities, she said. She also welcomes all students to join and see U.S. history through a new perspective, she said. “As a queer person myself, it’s very important to me to learn queer history,” she said. “It made me feel very connected to my own identity in new ways.”

In addition to learning musical literacy, Hetherington expects students to approach music history through a new lens, he said. “Music never exists in a vacuum. It always comes out of a particular time and place,” he said. “This really is an exploration of this particular time and place in New York City in the 70s, and how people who got the short end of that stick created these scenes and this music as a way of finding a community and finding a family.”

Wesley hopes that students will leave the course with a deeper knowledge of physics and the world around them, she said.“Hopefully students can be more curious, and be able to look up at the night sky and say that they understand what’s going on up there.”