Underrated electives


Electives are opportunities for students to utilize their passions in various ways. For many, these classes lend themselves to prospective career fields or pastime hobbies. And while some electives are popular among students, others are lesser known. These electives consist of Video Production, Stagecraft, Guitar and Web Development. 

Video Production

In room 506, Video Production students have the opportunity to explore their creativity and see their ideas come to life through visual mediums. 

In the first semester, students worked on broadcast journalism. Mrs. Overdevest, who teaches Video Production and advises West Ranch TV, is one of the few teachers in the district that teaches both film and broadcast. To get into West Ranch TV, students must first take a year of Video Production. 

Sophomore Alina Kim, a student in Video Production, gave us insight on her favorite project. “I liked our first semester final where we worked in a group and each one of us had to be the reporter to share good news and positivity,” Kim said. “The result was very professional with all the editing and shots.” 

This spring semester, the students are making short films. According to Kim, the students learn fundamental skills such as how to create storyboards and scripts, and how to film with cameras and edit using programs like WeVideo or Premiere Pro. They also gain access to professional cameras, microphones, tripods, editing software and more. 

Students practice analyzing films from directors by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock. They analyze the plot and interpret the usage of various shots and angles to learn how they impact the storytelling. They then apply that knowledge to create their own projects. 

Mrs. Overdevest explained how students benefit from taking Video Production. “Students have the creative freedom to make content and see how a story can go from their head to paper to the screen. I love seeing their excitement.” 

Video Production teaches valuable life skills that are applicable outside of the classroom. Mrs. Overdevest explained that filmmaking involves working in teams, so all projects are peer-run and students learn how to effectively communicate with their partners. They also practice meeting deadlines and how to work in an environment that can get chaotic at times. These skills are especially vital to teens after coming out of quarantine. 

“During the pandemic a lot of kids didn’t get that experience, so that is a skill employers are looking for, which is why I do a lot of career technical education,” Mrs. Overdevest explained. “My passion is to teach kids to create a story. Not just to film things, but what’s the story and how to tell people a story.”

Video production is always looking for creative minds who want to improve their video knowledge and skills. 

Web Development 

Web Development is one of the many electives West Ranch offers. The class focuses on three main areas: HTML (code used to structure a web page), web design and web production.

After one semester of Web Development 1, students will further develop their skills in Web Development 2 by refining their previous works and exploring Adobe Dreamweaver and Photoshop. This course is taught by West Ranch baseball coach and teacher Mr. Burrill.

Web Design is a fantastic course for experiencing technology tools that are used in a real business setting. Dreamweaver and Photoshop are both programs that are the industry standard for creating web based content,” he explained.

This class emphasizes the use of modern technologies in the real world. Students are given the chance to explore equipment such as computers, digital cameras, cell phones and web development software.

Mr. Burrill has enjoyed technology since his interest was sparked 20 years ago. “Making web pages was difficult and I thought students might be interested in learning how it is done,” he said. “I have created websites for profit and am thrilled to show students how they can do the same. They are able to include Dreamweaver and Photoshop on their resumes showing technology proficiency.”

During the course, students will have the opportunity to create original websites that are inspired by their ideas. At the end of the course, students can create their own profit website using the tools they learned throughout the year.

The real world projects they design are established by their own information and graphics. They are given freedom to be creative with their work while learning the valuable aspects of how the web plays a part in everyday life.

Students can explore and experiment to decide if they want to pursue a future career in the field. This course highlights many modern uses of technology that are engaging and useful to students in the many aspects of their life.

“I love watching students start with a concept and then produce their vision,” Mr. Burrill concluded.

Cats if this interests you, consider taking this course in the fall to learn all about what Web Development offers.


In Stagecraft, students are able to utilize their creativity, artistic abilities and fine motor skills to help produce school plays. From building sets to costuming, Stagecraft students get the opportunity to gain real world experience as part of the production team that runs everything behind-the-scenes.

Mr. Smith, the Stagecraft teacher, explained why he has enjoyed overseeing the class. “Stagecraft has been rewarding because it’s a great opportunity to interact with students doing practical skills we don’t normally see in the classroom where you’re reading or writing or doing vocabulary.”

Not only does this elective allow students to design the props for theater, it also teaches them about a wider range of theatrical components such as makeup, lighting, painting and working backstage during shows.

Jay Verebes, a sophomore and Stagecraft student, described Stagecraft as “a really fun hands-on class. There is always something new to learn and you get to spend a lot of time working together with your classmates.”

Whether or not students want to pursue a career in stage management, this elective teaches students skills that can easily be taken into other fields of study. Students who participate in Stagecraft are able to take their knowledge and transfer it to real world situations. 


Stagecraft allows students to build skills in communication, in problem solving, in project management. You also get the chance to foster your creativity and hone practical skills like sewing or building,” Mr. Smith explained. 

Last semester’s production of Clue was a highlight for many in Stagecraft. Verebes said, “My favorite part or project I have done is being our lighting tech for the production of Clue. I spent a lot of time learning how to use the board and practicing during rehearsal so it was amazing to see the show do so well.”

Mr. Smith echoed similar thoughts. “It was exciting to try and think about how to create this mansion. What’s been fun is being able to help shape the audience’s experience by the choices you make, in lighting design, in stage design, in props.”

Although Stagecraft continues to produce hit shows, the class remains understaffed. Stagecraft is always looking for new members to make a difference in the production of West Ranch school plays.


West Ranch students are all aware of the school’s band and orchestra programs; however, most don’t seem to know that another musical instrument — Guitar — is offered as an elective here at West Ranch. 

In Guitar, students gain a variety of skills from learning how to strum chords, read music and tab, which is a guitar-specific way of reading music. By the end of the course, students have a basic understanding of how to play the guitar and have experience working with music editing programs such as Soundtrap.

We start off by learning standard notation, then we move into chords, tabs and some fingerstyle techniques. So as far as guitar technique, it’s very thorough,” Guitar teacher Ms. Molly Peters explained. “I’ve always taught my guitar students music theory, and the past two years, we’ve also incorporated some digital music and technology, including learning some basic piano skills on keyboards. There is a lot of independent work time, especially as the students’ skills build up, and I may give them a parameter for a project.”

Mareia Farag, a Guitar student, said that she enjoys how Ms. Peters teaches the class. “For the first weeks, we learn the basics like the history of guitar, how to play simple chords and read music. It really helps for beginners,” Farag explained. She also mentioned that students are required to have their own guitar; however, the school offers two extras for those who need it.

As of now, Ms. Peters teaches only one period of Guitar, hoping to encourage more students to join the elective. 

“I would encourage any student to take Guitar if they have an interest in learning how to play,” she emphasized. “It’s always a very laid back atmosphere. I try to bring in articles and tutorials that connect to what students are interested in, but I also push them on the basic skills of being a strong musician.”

Farag, who also encourages other students to join, included that there are projects where “you get to take your favorite song and use this app named Soundtrack, where you add other things to the song to make it your own.”

The class offers students to be creative while simultaneously learning the Guitar. Ms. Peters loves teaching the course. “Students who have never played an instrument or studied music are able to learn a real skill.” 

On a final note, she emphasized, “I would encourage every student to give it a try at some point!”

Electives are a great way for students to gain real-life experience in future potential career paths and broaden their knowledge on specialized areas of interest. Smaller electives are beneficial because smaller class sizes lead to more individualized attention and opportunities for each student. In addition, it will allow students to work more closely with their peers. 

Wildcats, consider joining one of these lesser known electives today.