New Year, New Classes at Johnston High School

During the 2015-16 school year, Johnston High School staff sought feedback from parents, students, and community members in regards to the classes and skills needed to better prepare young minds for exciting new career fields.

The result was the creation of three new classes – Forensic Science, Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science, and Entrepreneurship.

“We really focused on creating classes driven out of student interest,” said Ryan Woods, Johnston High School Principal. “We think these three classes meet a lot of needs in terms of real-world skills, college and career preparation, and overall, what students are interested in learning.”

Forensic Science – taught by Chris Beguhn

Semester-long course, available to 10-12th graders, prerequisites needed.

It’s the JHS version of CSI for students enrolled in Chris Beguhn’s new Forensic Science class. In this course, students will focus on the collection, identification, and analysis of crime scene evidence through laboratory exercises and activities, examining the diverse methods used by forensic scientists to link suspects and evidence to a given crime scene.

“Teachers had talked about a class like this for a while,” said Woods. “We looked at the types of things that got kids excited in other science classes and thought a forensic science class fit the bill. We’re already seeing higher enrollment than expected, and it gets students learning more about science in a way that interests them.”

Students will apply their learning across many areas of science with an emphasis in developing skills in scientific reasoning, problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.


As part of the new AP Environmental Science course, students use a variety of hands-on learning experience to better understand the unique relationships between the natural world and environmental problems.

AP Environmental Science – taught by Kyla Burns

Year-long course, available to 10-12th graders, prerequisites needed.

Advanced Placement (AP) courses at Johnston High School – and other schools around the country – offer students a preview of the academic rigor similar to college classes. Additionally, students have the option to take a test in the spring and if they score high enough, they can receive college credit.

In efforts to create more AP opportunities for Johnston students, Kyla Burns upped the stakes on her popular environmental science course to now offer AP environmental science as well. In this course, students will use formal scientific methods to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and human-made, evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them.

“Ms. Burns’ existing environmental science class is very popular and we anticipate the AP version will be as well,” said Woods. “Kids gravitate to the types of classes where it’s very hands on and they can see how it applies to the real world.”

Entrepreneurship – taught by Rod Wiebers and Tim Brickley

Year-long course, available to 10-12th graders, instructor approval needed.

Seeing a need to create a class that merged school with industry, the Entrepreneurship: Running the JHS Store was designed and is now offered through the business department. Students will not only work with different clients to develop professional business plans, but they will also collaborate with each other to effectively run all aspects of the JHS Store, including finances, design, management, communications, and operations.

“We see this as a very authentic, hands-on experience for students,” said Woods. “It’s learning the business skills, but also allowing students to chase their passions and helping them understand what it takes to build a start-up company.”