Latin teacher Jane Batarseh

Two AP classes not offered next year; Garage Band elective added

Jacqueline Chao
Latin teacher Jane Batarseh

Due to Country Day’s small size, some AP classes can’t be offered every year. Both AP Latin and AP Music Theory will be joining those classes in 2018-19.

Latin teacher Jane Batarseh said AP Latin will not be offered because her four students in Latin IV are either graduating or prioritizing other AP classes. 

“This is always a problem in AP classes because there is an attrition by the time you get to the AP level,” Batarseh said. 

However, Batarseh said she hopes to offer the class in the future.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a group of classes so linguistically gifted,” Batarseh said. 

Although Batarseh said she is sad about not teaching AP next year, she will appreciate the lighter workload. 

“Not teaching the class puts me down about $10,000 next year,” Batarseh said. “But I’m going to be 70 next year, so it will be a little like a vacation.”

Batarseh has taught both Italian and Arabic electives before, but she said she would probably stick to Latin for the next couple of years.

On the other hand, music teacher Bob Ratcliff will teach a new elective in place of AP Music Theory.

He said he plans on alternating every year between AP Music Theory and his new elective, Garage Band.

Though Ratcliff has never taught a garage band elective before, he has taught similar courses throughout his career.

“At Washington State University, I was the jazz combo director,” Ratcliff said. “I oversaw a half a dozen groups. I (also) started the chamber music elective here at Country Day.”

In addition, Ratcliff ran a small music school in a music store in Boise, Idaho, overseeing rock and blues bands. 

But teaching and directing music groups are not the only experiences he has.

Ratcliff co-authored “The Garage Band” with Bill Hargrove, a book about learning to play music. It was published in 1997. 

Jacqueline Chao
AP Music Teacher Bob Ratcliff

“The heart of the book is a blues-based method of learning to play an instrument,” Ratcliff said. “But it also discusses forming a garage band as well as other aspects of recreational musicianship.”

Ratcliff noted that the elective won’t be taught like other music electives offered at Country Day.

The groups will have a set amount of time they need to meet per week, but the schedule will be quite flexible, according to Ratcliff.  

“We will have to meet as a class initially,” Ratcliff said. “Once things get going, the students will divide into groups and then will meet on their own schedule.

“I’ll begin by directing, then by guiding, and eventually be just an adviser. The groups will gain independence through experience.”

This independence is one of the factors that makes the class appealing, according to freshman Sydney Turner.

“I took choir every year in middle school but didn’t take it this year, so I really miss singing every day,” Turner said. “I want to take more initiative in what I sing,  so Garage Band works for me.”

Although the new elective appeals to some students, it doesn’t work as a replacement for AP Music Theory, junior Chardonnay Needler said.

“I’m frankly upset because I was never told that it wouldn’t be offered my senior year,” Needler said. “Even though I could self-study for the AP exam, getting an A in that class would’ve been a nice grade booster.

“Country Day doesn’t have many classes based on specific interests, which is why I was so excited to take that class.”

Originally published in the May 8 edition of the Octagon.

—By Mehdi Lacombe

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