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New school year approaches


Last updated 8/16/2007 at Noon

Two new classes will be available for students when Fallbrook Union High School convenes its fall semester on Monday, August 20. Both require creativity and passion. These join 174 other course offerings to provide a wide and varied choice for students.

Riding on the crest of emerging technology, “Introduction to Geographic Information Systems,” an introductory course on high-tech GIS applications, becomes a part of the school’s Regional Occupational Program. “Introduction to Film” joins the Visual and Performing Arts curriculum to provide in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience for students considering a career in film making.

The origin of all new courses comes from several sources, says Assistant Superintendent Jim Yahr. Some are added because of student interest, others due to the special talents or expertise of a teacher on staff. Very often, courses are added to respond to careers in an expanding job market, as is the case with “Introduction to Geographic Information Systems.”

According to the written course description, “Students will use ESRI ArcGIS software to explore real-world issues and solve complex spatial problems. Subjects covered in the class include GIS in society, sources and types of spatial data, GIS data creation, management and use, map projections and coordinate systems and cartographic design.” The manufacturer of GIS states it “is computer software that links geographic information (where things are) with descriptive information (what things are like).”

Basically it creates maps, but unlike a paper map, where “what you see is what you get,” a GIS digital map can have many layers of information. Like the paper map, dots or points represent features such as cities, lines represent roads and small areas represent features such as lakes. This information is stored in digital format as a series of ones and zeros – layers of information, or “themes.” One layer could be all the roads, another the lakes and yet another the cities, and the layers can be turned off and on to control the amount of information about the area.

GIS technology is used by the military – especially its intelligence community – and the EPA to monitor environmental concerns, but it has enormous practical potential for business. McDonald’s, for example, can use GIS mapping technology to look for new locations, says Dr. Michael Phoenix, Manager of the Education Sector, ESRI. They can see geographic areas where there are no McDonald’s or competitors’ locations, where clusters of young kids live, where traffic patterns indicate high numbers of potential customers and where there is available commercial real estate on which to build a site.

In addition to learning how to use GIS software, students will find out about emerging careers in GSI and employment resources. Dr. Phoenix says the job market is “hot,” with careers in local government, state transportation and land management and at the federal level in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, for instance.

The sophisticated software, scanners and new computers for this class are funded by a grant in cooperation with Valley Center High School and Palomar College. Students who successfully complete this course with an A or B will receive credit for Palomar College’s Geography 120 class, which satisfies the college requirement for a GIS certificate.

At present the class will be open to juniors and seniors, Yahr says, but next year there will be no grade level restrictions. Students must have keyboard skills and adequate computer knowledge, however. Class size is 30 to 35 students. At press time, the instructor hired for this class has not been announced.

For students planning a career in film, like junior Nik Péter, “Introduction to Film” may be the first step on the path to success.

“I’m scheduled to take it,” Péter says. “I’m really excited. Since I want to be a director, it might put me on the road to be one.”

Florene Villane will teach the new film class. She also teaches drama. An overview of the class includes understanding and appreciating film as an art form. Further, students will study symbolism, characterization, imagery and creative expression in film. They will also research the cultural aspect of film from silent films to present and study historical cultures which have influenced the film industry.

An aspect of creative expression noted in the course description includes analyzing film plots, characters and themes; camera angles, treatment of suspense, lighting and chronology, and they will storyboard a scene from a stage play to film format.

“Introduction to Film” is open to juniors and seniors and, according to the course description, “is a prerequisite for any film making class.” Class size is likely to be 30 to 35 students.


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