SHS principal talks about course changes

Sunnyside High School Principal Dennis Birr went before the school board last week to talk about some changes with the 2004-05 course description book.

Beginning with the class of 2006, graduating seniors will need only 22 credits. The class of 2005 will still need 24 credits to receive a diploma, said Birr.

Birr also touched on the non-credit graduation requirements of high school students. Students are required to submit a five-year education plan upon entering high school. Freshmen will not get their class agendas until the plan is submitted. The senior project will become a requirement of all high school students beginning with the class of 2006. The class of 2005 will not be required to do a senior project as it is part of their assignment for their contemporary world problems course. Birr told the school board that starting with the class of 2006 even the Running Start students attending Yakima Valley Community College will have to complete a senior project. Currently, Running Start students aren't required to complete a senior project.

Birr also touched on the name change for the Certificate of Mastery the incoming freshman class will have to obtain to receive a high school diploma. Birr said the certificate is now known as the Certificate of Academic Achievement.

Under course requirements at the high school, students will have to have four credits of English, two credits of health/fitness, two credits of science, one credit of visual and performing arts and one credit of occupational/career and technical courses. Students will need to take one credit of world history, one credit of American history and one credit of contemporary world problems. Birr also told of how students can satisfy their half-credit for Pacific Northwest history by taking the course in the seventh grade instead of high school. High school students also need to take three credits of math or two credits of math if courses include algebra I or geometry.

About the only major change in next year's high school course description book is under visual and performing arts. This class section used to be defined as fine arts. The new name eliminates some of the courses that fell under the fine arts program, such as debate. Classes that fall under the visual and performing arts include art, music, desktop publishing and commercial art/animation.

Birr said next year's course description book is relatively the same as the previous year. He also noted the high school will be adding advanced placement biology next year. The high school now has nine advanced placement courses. The high school will become eligible for a special designation from colleges once it has 10 advanced placement classes.

. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at


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