Nearly a Dozen xBlock Classes to Choose From

Students have returned from Spring Break to an amazing assortment of interesting electives and activities offered by faculty, students, and friends of the School.
Thacher’s xBlock classes provide a great opportunity to learn a new skill, explore a new subject, or share a subject you are passionate about. This trimester, we will be offering eleven xBlock classes in a wide array of subjects.

Students looking for a hands-on experience might choose from titles including Sewing, Jewelry Making, Intro to Programming, or Sustainable Food Systems. Taught by Mr. Sánchez and two seniors, Barkley and Tyler, Sustainable Food Systems will look at the environmental implications of food choices. And, because it is about food, Tyler will share a new local dish each week. The class will also spend time off-campus visiting sustainable farms in the Ojai Valley and learning how they support the health of the planet.

The School’s ongoing commitment to personal health and wellness is reflected in the Breathing 101 and Mindfulness courses. The write-up for the breathing course says, when we breathe correctly, “the relaxation response is activated, and the body begins to heal itself. Asthma symptoms improve, sleep quality increases, the mind becomes more focused, athletic performance increases, and overall stress is reduced.” That sounds like a class everyone can benefit from.

Moving from the personal to the social, some courses are designed to stretch students’ world views. In Have a “Politically Incorrect" Debate with Mr. Ali, students will have real conversations about things that “bug” them. Mr. Ali is hoping to help students navigate the terrain as they are “figuring out their lives, maturing, growing.” For those who want to gain an understanding of gender identity, gender expression, sex vs. gender, and political and discriminatory policies, the Sex, Gender and Experience course will be a good starting point. This course, co-taught by Ms. McMahon and Jae ’21, will use documentaries, activities, articles, and discussion as the means to engage with these topics.

There is even one other student-taught course. Juniors Joy and Jackie will co-teach Creative Writing with Ms. Popa. Joy, who was profiled earlier this year in the story, Bringing Off-Campus Lessons Back Home, solidified her love for writing in a summer workshop at Cornell University. This course is an excellent example of a student sharing her passion with others.

To round out the course offerings, students will have the opportunity to take deep dives into text and media. Stories of the Old Testament and Torah will be a literary study of stories from the Judeo-Christian tradition taught by Mr. Popa. And, in Advanced French: Slam Poetry and French Cinema as Reflections of Current Events, students will use poetry and film as windows into contemporary issues in French-speaking societies.

Approximately 50 - 70 students, freshman through seniors, generally add xBlock classes to their already busy schedules, either for fun, self improvement, or because they just want to explore everything that Thacher has to offer. Regardless of the motivation, wonderful things come out of these classes. We hope to share student feedback and maybe some of their creations later in the term.

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