Arlington students heading back to school Sept. 7 will have some new options in classes, including a chance to study the wild blue yonder with the Air Force and translate Caesar's Gallic Wars into English over two-way cable television hookups.
High school students will discover increased emphasis on academic rigor as graduation requirements are raised from 18 to 20 credits and students are required to take six classes a day instead of five.
"This is not the year we should be out creating a lot of new courses unless something is identified as being in shortage or is outdated," said Superintendent Charles E. Nunley, whose major task this year will be working with the school board on 1984 school closings.
Nevertheless, the projected 14,317 Arlington students will find some changes at elementary, intermediate and high schools, according to J. Boyd Webb, associate superintendent for education.
For the first time since the 1950s, Arlington will offer Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC).
Webb said this program, which is open to all high school students, is an experiment being sponsored by the school system and the Air Force. The year-long course will be offered during school hours at the county's Career Center two periods a day, five days a week.
Royce Radeline, an assistant director at the center, said 100 students have enrolled in the program, which counts as two credits.
The school system had planned to offer JROTC classes for the Air Force, Army and Navy, but there were not enough students and facilities this year for all three programs.
Another change will be a heavier class load for high school students, starting with this year's freshman class. Entering freshman will be required to take six classes a day, unless exempted by their principal, and will have to take an extra science and math course to graduate.
The new graduation requirement boosts the minimum number of courses for graduation to 20, two more than the state minimum of 18.
In intermediate schools, the school system is turning toward expanded use of cable television to increase course offerings, a move that could signal a way to maintain curriculum variety in the face of declining enrollments if the program is successful, Webb said.
In a pilot program this year, cable television will be used to teach Latin I and II at Thomas Jefferson and Kenmore intermediate schools, Webb said. In the past, the two schools had combined those courses because of insufficient enrollment.
A major advantage of the program is that no new staff is needed. By using a two-way cable hookup, the school system plans to teach the courses simultaneously at the two schools.
One elementary school will not open this year. Former students at Woodmont, closed last June because of declining enrollments, will attend Taylor.
An estimated 70 students in grades 2 and 3 at Claremont, Glencarlyn and Key elementary schools who are severely limited in English proficiency will be getting extra help. They will be enrolled for three hours each morning in High Intensity Language Training (HILT) classes instead of being assigned to 30-minute classes for those with higher proficiencies.
Webb said the school system will add a half-time elementary science teacher to help develop the science curriculum. The schools also are hiring a half-time teacher for computer sciences who will help develop a uniform computer science program for the school system, Webb said. Teachers as well as students will be offered courses in computer science.