History Courses at Independence High School Continue to Evolve and Expand Students’ Minds

The history department at Independence High School has had its eye on developing new courses to expand students’ minds, including several Advanced Placement courses, for many years.  There has been an increase in elective courses beyond U.S. and World History, including United States of Cinema, America at War: The Military History of the United States, America the Beautiful, and Advanced Placement European History and Advanced Placement Microeconomics.  Juniors and seniors interested in Aristotle and Socrates will have the opportunity beginning in the 2023-24 school year to take Introduction to Philosophy.

Advanced Placement European History is a 1 credit elective course. Students study the continent’s history from 1450 to the present day.  The course, taught at the college level, prepares students for the AP exam in May. There is a focus on critical historical writing and analyzing sources. Topics covered include  political and diplomatic history, social and economic movements, as well as cultural and intellectual history. “I took AP Euro to broaden my understanding of international relations, culture, and history. Additionally, AP Euro helped me to make in-depth connections regarding the many ways United States history has grown from and has been affected by European history” said Kyle McGovern, Grade 12. 

United States of Cinema is a ½ credit elective course that gives students an appreciation and understanding of classic films from the 1920’s through present day. Genres explored during the course include drama, westerns, film noir, comedy, suspense, and action. The class also explores how these films fit into the broad spectrum of American culture, both at the time of their release and in the present day. Students write critical papers of the films, as well as participate in class discussions.  “It is great to be able to expose a whole new generation to landmark American films like Casablanca, On The Waterfront, and American Graffiti,” said Mr. McGuinness.

America at War: The Military History of the United States is a ½ credit elective course.  This course explores the impact and evolution of the major wars in United States history. Students learn about military decisions, battle tactics, political consequences of wars, and the changing role of the United States as a world leader. The course covers major American conflicts from the Revolutionary War to modern times. Additionally, students focus on what life was like for military personnel in all of the wars.  “We are very excited to offer this new course to help students understand and appreciate the sacrifices that the members of our military have made on behalf of our great nation. This course will illustrate the development of the United States as the leader of the free world” said Mr. McGuinness

America the Beautiful is a ½ credit elective course. Students learn about the beauty of the United States by researching its National Parks, Washington D.C. and monuments and other historic cities and sites. Students also work together to plan and implement a community service project.  “The purpose of this course is to foster an interest in our national treasures both natural and historical.  My goal is to inspire travel in the United States and encourage career opportunities in the National Park Service or Smithsonian Museums,” said Mrs. Dietrich.

Advanced Placement Microeconomics is a ½ credit elective course.  The course analyzes how economic principles impact the individual in their decision-making. Areas of analysis include markets, distribution of income, market failure, and the role of government in promoting economic efficiency and equity. “It’s exciting to watch young minds develop the decision-making skills of an economist, which are essential to their and society’s well-being,”  Mr. Hugh McMahon

New to the 2023-24 school year will be Introduction to Philosophy.  This will be a ½ credit course offered for juniors and seniors.  The course will cover philosophical ideals and values that have shaped thinking in Western Civilization from ancient times to the present. This course will examine key issues in philosophy and in ethics, and how they relate to modern society. Students will study classical texts from great minds like Aristotle, Socrates, and Marcus Aurelius.  Students also will participate in daily class discussions and learn how to defend their positions and ideas critically. “This course was generated by student-led interest in philosophy and ethics,” said Mr. McGuinness.  “The study of philosophy gives students the opportunity to think and write critically about key issues in the human experience. Philosophical thinking involves the evaluation, criticism, and defense of the values that a particular society holds. We look forward to offering this new course at I.H.S.” 

Teachers in the social studies department include Mrs. Jennifer Dietrich, Mr. Hugh McMahon, Mr. William McGuinness and Mr. Josh Piscura.