New courses aim to reach variety of students


Twenty-three Pioneer students were named National Merit semifinalists for the 2021-22 school year.

In response to national trends and with the goal of providing a wider range of classes to students, Pioneer officials are introducing several new classes as part of an “inclusive curriculum”. 

An inclusive curriculum purposefully explores many perspectives on educational topics and supports the emotional health and varied angles or needs of students.

“Having an inclusive program is important because people that are in minorities need to feel like they have a place where they belong,” said freshman Amber Weaver. 

Among the new courses offered for this years’ upperclassmen is History, Racism, Resistance. Brent Richards, social studies department chair and ethics bowl team leader will teach the class, which focuses on the history of racism and how Americans resisted.

“It’s important to the curriculum because it gives kids an opportunity to take a deeper dive into some of the issues that have been prevalent in the news as of late but also in our community,” said Richards. “It also gives students the opportunity to share their own personal experiences with one another for those who have experienced racism and a first person understanding of what people of color may experience.”

The other new course that will be offered this year is titled Literature, Hip Hop Movement. This class will be taught by Jeff Kass, one of the leaders of creative writing related work at Pioneer. The course will focus on dissecting hip-hop lyrics and will be offered to juniors and seniors. 

According to Kass, Literature, Hip Hop Movement will be composed of three elements that will take up about a third of the year. First, students will study the evolution of the hip hop movement, focusing on the history of hip hop and how it changed over time. This third of the year will dive into topics like: Who was the first woman rapper? What was the first political rap? Second, people enrolled in Literature, Hip Hop will learn to analyze hip hop lyrics and figure out what literary techniques rappers used to create their songs.

Finally, there will be a creation element at the end of the year where people will have the extraordinary opportunity to create their own hip hop art in a wide variety of forms such as songs, graffiti, and fashion. 

Kass called the course a great way to help educate students who want to explore different forms of creative expression, other than usual English classes. Kass stated that the course’s aim is to reach many students who may otherwise feel uninterested. 

“Hip hop has probably been the most influential musical art form in the last fifty years, and it’s worthy of study,” said Kass. “A lot of young people who might struggle in a standard English class but really enjoy playing with the music of language will enjoy a class where we’re valuing hip hop as a legitimate movement and an art form.” 

“I think it’s cool because I’ve never heard of an English class that has anything to do with hip hop or hip hop literature,” said junior Aireen Gardner. “I didn’t even know hip hop had to do with literature. It sounds pretty interesting, I might take it.”