Students will broaden their horizons in new ninth grade seminar

Class will tackle issues of social justice

Freshman year is a transitional time, both literally and figuratively. Not only are students arriving in high school for the first time, but they’re also being asked to explore more complex and mature educational topics.

It’s fitting then that a new ninth grade seminar will give our students an opportunity to expand both their academic and social-emotional skills with help from six social-justice themed texts.

In July the School Board voted unanimously to adopt the new non-fiction books, all of which have been vetted by our Instructional Materials Committee and our Sensitive Issues Committee.

“All of the textbooks revolve around social justice issues, and the students will be able select a text and be guided through discussions and be able to work in book groups with students as part of the research they’re going to be doing,” said Dr. Jennifer Bethman, Bethel’s Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools.

In the seminar, each student will select a social justice issue to research, read deeply about, and share with the greater community. As part of the research process, students will participate in literature circles with the texts.

Page Folsom is a librarian at Spanaway Lake High School who worked on the Freshman Seminar Planning Team. She said one of the great things about the seminar is that it was specifically designed to build student engagement.

“Our goal is that each student enjoys access to rigorous, culturally diverse coursework that connects to real-life learning experiences by connecting to students’ cultural identity and enhancing critical thinking in the classroom,” she said.

The process of adopting any new curriculum involves numerous steps and requires input from students, teachers, and administrators, before finally being approved by the School Board.

Kellie Fremont, the district’s Assistant Director of Secondary Teaching and Learning, said throughout the process, the entire focus is on what’s best for our district’s students.

“Reevaluating course offerings and seeking out instructional materials is essential when providing quality educational experiences for all our students,” she said.

The new seminar will be available to ninth graders at all three of our comprehensive high schools.

Helping kids learn is the driving force behind all we do in the Bethel School District.