Independent studies offer academic enrichment


Jana Mayfield

Simon Bishop studies Economics of Disaster during 3rd period.

Studying the course catalog for next year is always exciting, with options galore in science, CTE, English, and every other subject. But, when you signed up for your classes for the 2022-23 school year, you may have passed right over course number 0030: Independent Study Projects. What even is it? Independent Study is an option available to juniors and seniors that broadens the educational horizon of possibility as far as you can imagine. Independent studies can range from Advanced French, Pottery, Physics, or Photo, to Python programming and Computer Science. If you find yourself interested in a subject not offered as a class at Park High, don’t despair! Independent Study is a great option for self-motivated students looking to explore the vast world of knowledge that can be found outside of our course offerings (self-motivated being the key bit in that sentence). Students hoping to undertake an Independent Study project must first create an application with their project goals, the timeline for the project, a list of resources that they plan to use, and their planned method of evaluation at the end of the semester, and present it to Principal Lori Dust for approval. But, ultimately, the reward of Independent Study is worth the effort required for the opportunity to investigate and learn things beyond the course catalog.

Ashlan Mortensen studies Equine Science during 2nd period. (Jana Mayfield)

Senior Ashlan Mortensen studies equine science during second period. The subject was supposed to be offered as a class this year but ended up being cancelled, so Ashlan has taken matters into her own hands and independently researches a plethora of topics including evolution, behavior, different breeds, and common illnesses and health problems. Her favorite part of Independent Study is that “you get to decide what you want to learn instead of following a rubric.” She says that she would recommend that “someone who has more structure and can hold themselves accountable,” consider taking an Independent Study in the future.

Simon Coleman is taking two independent studies: Computer Science and Chinese. Simon decided to study Chinese “because it’s an important language in the business world and I can use it to speak with my grandparents.” He is taking an online course through a program called Yoyo Chinese. Simon recognizes that “everything in the world is moving towards technology and it will be valuable to have a background in [computer science],” which is the reasoning behind his decision to also study computer science, which he does by taking Harvard University’s CS50 course. He says that he enjoys “exploring computers and how they work.”

Simon Bishop studies Economics of Disaster during 3rd period. (Jana Mayfield)

Simon Bishop, a senior, is studying Economics of Disasters. “I had Econ last semester and I thought it was cool [and] disasters are a good thing to focus on.” So far, he has studied topics like the economic and governmental response to price gouging and the reasoning behind societal phenomena such as the end of the cowboy frontier. His resources include readings and websites from social studies teacher Joey Lane, following an online course that Lane took on the subject a few years ago. Simon’s favorite part of doing an Independent Study is having the freedom to work at his own pace.

Wil Sullivan works on his Adobe Animate Independent Study. (Jana Mayfield)

For his last semester of high school, Wil Sullivan has decided to study Adobe Animate, a program used to design animations and vector graphics for a variety of forms of media. One of the major factors behind this decision is the fact that both of his parents are graphic designers. He works out of a “classroom in a book” from Adobe and follows the chapters to learn more about the art of animation. His most recent creation is an animation of a bouncing ball. He enjoys Independent Study and being able to govern himself and would recommend Independent Study to student considering them for the future.