Choice-making, advocacy, differentiation, and diversity. These are just a few of the reasons why Cotting’s newest version of the elective program has been so popular among students and teachers alike. At 2 pm each Thursday, our Upper School students are engaged in an elective course of their choosing. The addition of elective choices came about after the faculty decided that our Upper School students should have more automony in shaping their own curriculum. The expanded pilot program consists of five courses – FilmMaking, Wood Crafts, Writing, Theater, and French – from which students are able to choose. We sat down with the students and teachers involved to find out more about these exciting offerings.


Upper school teacher Julianne Sullivan sees the difference that the electives have had on her students. “One of my students talks all day about his time in wood crafts. A few others are really stretching their imaginations writing for a literary magazine. They truly love their electives.” Early in the year, students filled out a survey that asked them to rank their top three elective choices and were grouped based on preference. “They’re experiencing things they otherwise wouldn’t in my classroom. They write, for example, but the elective taps more into their creative side,” Sullivan adds. “They’ve also made the choice to be in these specific electives, based on their own interests, and are surrounded by other students that share that same interest.” Her students, MaKenna and Meaghan, agreed. They both love fairytales the best. “We can choose the setting and the characters. We make up the stories, and sometimes they’re funny! We learned that writing can be a lot of fun.”






In FilmMaking, Sarah Hassett sees her elective accomplishing both a practical and social goal. “Half of this experience is about teaching filmmaking – using the camera, editing video clips – and the other half is about students interacting with others outside of their routine. That’s all part of the Upper School experience.” By the end of December, her students were involved in all stages of filmmaking, cooperating with one another and teaching each other things. “Everyone can participate because our equipment is adaptable. Seeing someone’s point of view from filming in a wheelchair is really neat. The process in here is so collaborative.” The expanded elective program has enabled our Upper School students to explore their passions with their peers, but it also has empowered our students to further individualize their own Cotting experience. The choice-making process aligns with our transitional programming goals, as we try to prepare students to be as independent as possible as they approach graduation.



To learn more about electives and other academic offerings, visit

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