ATWATER -- Next year, Merced Union High School District students will have the chance to immerse themselves in the history and geography of the Sierra Nevada, after the school board approved the new elective, in addition to three other classes, Wednesday night.
High school students could also choose from horticulture and agriculture economics and seniors can opt for agriculture American government instead of the required American government class.
The school district said it plans to have two of the courses, agriculture economics and agriculture American government, recognized by the University of California as prerequisite courses for admission there, said Sandra Schiber, executive director of educational services.
The goal behind the two classes is to help students with agriculture-focused courses maintain that track over four years.
"If these courses have an ag bent, students will be more engaged by it," said school district trustee Tim O'Neill.
The popularity of agriculture-focused classes in the district is one indication that O'Neill's statement holds true.
Officials reported Wednesday night that agriculture classes were the most popular career-oriented programs for the past two years.
"The vastness of the ag industry is attractive," said district director of categorical programs Christine Nakamura Swenson. "Students can be farmers or get a four-year degree and work in the business aspect."
Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.