Monday, June 27, 2016

Senior Year Electives

With the recent graduation season over, I was reminded of my own senior year in high school. I could have graduated a year ahead if I’d taken US Government in summer school after my junior year. It was the only required class I hadn’t taken. My friend, Susie, did just that and graduated early.

However, I didn’t want to miss all the special events of senior year, and after working so hard on academic subjects for three years, I wanted the opportunity to take a few electives. I also wanted to qualify for the National Honor Society, since any chance of college scholarships might depend on it.

At the time, we had six classes. US Government was my first class in the morning, and my advanced dance class was the last of the day. I had four periods to fill with classes I’d enjoy. What bliss!

First, I chose senior English since I planned to be an English major. I don’t remember much about it except we wrote a lot. I also took the one-semester World Lit. class with my favorite teacher, Mr. Ward. We studied the differences in the way different cultures approached the written word. I especially remember contrasting Oman Khayyam’s poetry with that of Yates and Dylan Thomas.

I then chose my only class in the Homemaking Department: Home and Family. This class was easy for me since I was already doing lots of the things it taught, like making the bed properly (bottom sheet right-side up, top sheet right-side down, and hospital corners), making and using a household budget, meal planning and shopping effectively, balancing a checkbook, repairing a lamp, etc. One of the most valuable lessons was how to repair a toilet. For many years, I replaced all the ball cocks and flush chains in our home.

Another one-semester class was Senior Problems. This was actually Psychology 101. We studied what makes us act the way we do. We had a long discussion on deceptive advertising. (Remember, this was the Mad Men era.) I’ve never looked at an ad the same way since.

I also took a semester of Beginning Spanish. We had a student teacher, and I confess, we drove him crazy. Once, I turned in my homework written backwards (right-to-left). I had taught myself to do it, and I can still read and write backwards. He returned my paper and told me to redo it. He said if I ever did it again, he’d give me an F.

Finally, I took an art class—the first I’d ever taken. And I LOVED it. I recently posted a photo of a tree I drew early in the class.
On a hot afternoon, we walked across to the cool garden behind the library to sketch. I’d always loved this tree, so I decided to choose it as my subject. I’ve always liked this quick study in ink on paper. Over the years, it became discolored, so I tried to clean up the background to restore the original effect.

I did a portrait of my favorite subject. Not great, but close enough to recognize.
This was a quick study using colored pencils.

In college, I took another art class. I loathed the instructor. In his opinion, anything that resembled real life wasn’t art. I disagreed. My grade reflected our disagreement.

I did a dual study in charcoal of Larry. Later on, I cut out the portrait and discarded the profile. (It wasn't accurate, and the whole dual study was too large.) It hung on the wall for a time until it fell and the glass broke, damaging the paper. But I still like it.
On one project, my college instructor and I agreed. Each student was to make a stabile. I took a small wooden block and attached interlocking quasi-circles of wire to the center. I painted the whole thing flat black, and added a red Christmas ornament in the middle. For some reason, the instructor liked it and asked to keep it as a demonstration to future classes. He did, and I got an A for the project, thus saving my GPA.

During my freshman year in college, the pressure was on again. I had a California State Scholarship and had to remain on the Dean’s List to maintain it. (I did.) I liked my classes, but not the school. And I never enjoyed another year as glorious as my senior year in high school.

What was your favorite year in school? What was your favorite class? What class do you wish you had taken?


  1. I loved my senior year but don't remember it in detail like you--what I do remember more easily is the social stuff--getting to sit on the front (senior) lawn during recess and lunch, all the celebrations, ditching with my friends for half a day (nothing was going on at school) and all of our finals were done, and our wonderful graduation at the Occidental College bowl. For gradation night, friends and I went to Hollywood Blvd.--much different back then than it is now. Can't remember what all we did down there, but we came home and had a slumber party. Quite different compared to what kids do today.

    1. We had an All-night part at the Elks Club. I still have the drawings of us from that night. They are framed on the wall. We graduated out of the East L.A. College stadium since the bleachers had been taken down at our sports field. We also had senior ditch day. I went to the beach with my girlfriends in one of their parents' convertible. It was overcast all day, so we got no sun.