Top 5 electives at South

Laynie Rearick, Staff Writer

As freshmen, sophomores, and juniors get ready to choose their schedules for next year, some might feel overwhelmed by all the choices offered at South. (I know I did.) For your convenience, here are my top five electives to take.

(Note: Some of these may not be available for all grade levels. Make sure to see your counselor for any further questions.)

5. Film Literature

Taught by Kathleen Mills—she’ll pop up later in this list where you least expect it—I took this class in the height of the pandemic and still had a great time, which I think is a mark of how fun this class is. Many classes that I would’ve enjoyed in-person were lessened by the fact that I was online, but not film lit.

Obviously in this class, you get to watch movies, but beyond that, you learn about the importance of camera angles, lighting, old fashioned movie techniques, etc. One of the most fun projects is being able to write your own film noir script and then perform it in front of the class. You get to vote on movies you watch, and I even just helped a friend record her own podcast discussing the characteristics of comedy films.

4. Journalism

Run by Juliana Crespo, I highly recommend taking journalism before, or at the same time, as newspaper. This class helped me develop my nonfiction writing, which is obviously helpful if you plan on joining the newspaper staff.

While nonfiction writing on the surface might seem less creative than fiction writing, one of the first big projects you do in this class is to create a fake newspaper. In a group, you each report on different stories that have happened in town, and you can make up any wacky ideas you have.

3. Creative Writing

I took this class last year as a junior with Taryn Nance and absolutely loved it. It’s definitely aimed for people who are looking to improve their fiction writing. I wrote flash fiction, a short story, and a short film script. Along with 10-minute writing exercises at the beginning of every class to get your creative juices flowing, I definitely feel like this class helped my writing improve.

Another thing that makes this class extremely enjoyable is the teacher herself: Nance. The nature of the class is very laid back, and Nance is very generous with deadlines. She also introduces you to various pieces of writing—many of which were beautiful and poignant, and it’s clear to see that she is passionate about what she teaches.

2. American Sign Language

Learning American Sign Language (ASL) has absolutely changed my life. After taking three years of this class, I am now going to college for sign language interpretation. I could go on and on about how much I adore this language, but then this article would be too long.

For many people, ASL is a translation of English and nothing more. Those people are wrong. ASL, true ASL, ASL in its purest form, is a beautiful visual language that has a rich history behind it. Signing is, in my humble opinion, the most emotional way of communicating—different facial expressions and the intensity of how you move your body implies a range of emotions and often different meanings entirely.

As some may know, both South and Bloomington North have struggled to keep their ASL teachers for a multitude of reasons, and while I know the circumstances aren’t ideal for a conducive learning environment, I promise you will fall in love with the language.

Beyond that, there is a whole history behind the deaf community that is not taught in schools. Learning about Deaf Pride, the history of Gallaudet, the incredible waves Marlee Matlin has made in deaf actors in Hollywood—the list is endless, and so are my reasons for loving this language.

1. Newspaper*

Here it is! Kathleen Mills’ second appearance on my ranking of electives!

Joining The Optimist is a great chance for you to get involved in all the activities happening at school. It allows you to develop your communication skills, especially in an interview setting. You get the chance to talk to students around your own age as well as some of the staff. You learn invaluable skills like planning ahead—if you’re interviewing a teacher, it’s important to keep an open line of communication to make sure you don’t walk in and interrupt them in the middle of teaching. And, if writing isn’t your thing, there are plenty of options to do photography, film videos, or do podcasts. Contributing to The Optimist’s Instagram and TikTok is also an essential part of being on the staff, as it helps bring in more traffic to the website.

Circling back to communication, talking to the editors and making sure you keep them clued in on the status of your story is extremely important. They are there to help you, and they want stories to go up probably more than you do, so if you encounter any roadblocks in writing your story, talk with the editors and work out the situation together.

However, as this class has very few set deadlines, being a part of this class requires you to be responsible for yourself and your work. If you think you might need a bit more structure to get stuff done, this may not be the class for you.

*Not sponsored.


So if you have a free space while signing up for your schedule, need some backup classes, or are just looking for some fun classes to join, why not try one of these? You just might realize you’re a literary genius.