File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Central School District administration unveiled a plan last week to add, modify and eliminate certain middle and high schools courses for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year.

Administrators proposed adding 10 new courses in the high school’s rapidly expanding course book during the Board of Education meeting last Tuesday. They proposed eliminating four courses and modifying four others in the high school, although the subject matter of the courses being eliminated would be replaced with new courses or be integrated into existing courses.

Courses being added include:
Agricultural science (1 credit)
Applications of chemistry (1 credit)
AP Precalculus (1 credit)
ENL Computer programming I Python (1 credit)
Computer game design (1 credit)
Public speaking (½ credit)
News literacy (SBU ACE) (½ credit)
AP Seminar (½ credit)
Research methods (½ credit)
Theater performance and production (½ course)
Portfolio development in art and technology (1 credit)

Courses being eliminated include:
Marine biology (1 credit)
Dramatic literature (½ credit)
Journalism (½ credit)
Introduction to theater (½ credit)

Courses being modified include:
Marine science (from a ½ credit to 1 credit)
Basic electricity (½ credit)
Intro to networking (½ credit)
Computer repair (½ credit)

For example, marine science, formerly a course with classes every other day, would be modified to be an everyday course that would teach marine biology, which was eliminated, in addition to other aspects of marine science.

Journalism would no longer be offered, but a news literacy course — which gives students the opportunity to get college credit through Stony Brook University’s Accelerated College Education program — would take its place. The course would also teach news writing and editing in addition to news literacy skills, according to the course description.

Several courses would be modified. The basic electricity course would be modified to require the completion of a basic algebra course. Other courses, including intro to networking, computer repair and residential structures, would be modified to include the opportunity to gain professional certifications.

The high school would also begin to offer AP precalculus, the newest advanced placement course being offered by the College Board, the organization that administers the exams. AP seminar will also be offered and “aid students in analyzing and synthesizing research from multiple sources to construct evidence-based arguments and presentation,” according to the course description. The course is part of the AP Capstone program, which in tandem with the completion of other advanced placement courses allows for a student to receive an advanced diploma.

There are also changes coming to the academics of the Riverhead Middle School.

Some courses will be shifted out and new ones will be brought in for grades 7 and 8, Principal Joseph Pesqueira said. An academic committee, composed of middle school faculty, support staff and administrators, has been meeting monthly after school to review new course offerings proposed by teachers to decide on what new courses will be offered, Pesqueira said.

Pesqueira said the academic committee recommended the middle school implement an “academic wheel,” which would see students taking on a new elective each quarter of the school year.

“An elective wheel at the middle school would allow students to get 10-week experiences with four different electives throughout the year,” Pesqueira said. “While logistics for a wheel complicates things a little, we are trying to find a way to make this possible so that we can provide our students with the opportunity for a larger breadth of exploratory courses before high school.”

The academic committee also recommended that the district add an advisory course for 7th grade students. Pesqueira said the course would be modeled after the freshman seminar added to the high school curriculum this past school year.

“Ideally, we would like to offer the course in seventh grade with a period where deeper relationships can be established with an adult role model in a small class setting,” Pesqueira said. “Within the advisory period, students will be supported with social and emotional skills, as well as study skills, time management, organizational skills, communication skills, and more, to prepare students to become successful in middle school, and will lead to a better high school experience.”

Middle school administrators also said during the presentation that they will be creating a program of study, with course descriptions, guidance information, extracurricular opportunities and other resources. Pesqueira said the program of study is a much-needed resource to allow students and families to get a better understanding of the academic opportunities within the school.

Pesqueira said the administration is still finalizing the program of study. No new course offerings for the middle school, other than the 7th grade advisory course, were revealed by administration.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: