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Changes announced to classes and departments for 2020-2021


Students working on a robot.

Cardinal Gibbons is welcoming the new year and the new decade with something new of its own – changes to some of its academic courses and departments for the 2020-2021 school year.

The changes range from adding classes like Freshman Seminar and separate Men’s and Women’s Fitness to forming the Business, Technology, Engineering (BTE) department. They are intended to further support the development of Gibbons graduates in mind, body, and spirit as well as to equip them with the skills needed today to succeed in college and life.

Lesley Coe with students at STARs desk.

Exciting, creative, and innovative are words Principal Nancy A. Barkan used to describe the changes, which were adopted after years of planning and discussion. The need to revamp the curriculum, she added, is based on research of what similar Catholic schools are offering, shifts to the K-8 curriculum as well as N.C. State and industry standards.

“Ours is a multi-faceted approach to some course changes - focused on Health and Physical Education, Technology Skills, and World Geography - starting at the ninth-grade level that will help us more accurately meet the needs of our students,” Barkan explained. “At the same time, the changes will continue to support student choice and educator workload balance as well as our school’s mission.” Current classroom space and staff accommodate the changes, she added.

While the changes will be implemented in the upcoming school year, students will begin to register for the new classes next month (February 4-14). Below are some key differences:

The new BTE department will combine the former Business and Computer Science departments.
Gibbons Freshman Seminar will replace Technology Skills and World Geography as mandatory courses for all incoming ninth-
grade students. It will also include a health component that incorporates social and emotional learning.
The Health and Physical Education department will be revamped into The Physical Education department and offer classes in
Men’s Fitness and Women’s Fitness. The health curriculum will be incorporated into the Freshman Seminar.
Media classes have been reorganized as part of the Fine Arts department and still will count as a Fine Arts credit.
Honors credit and the honors option have changed for many courses.


Gibbons educator in the classroom with students.

Some of the course changes, said Barkan, were inspired by NC State or AP College Board standards as well as research of classes offered at similar Catholic schools. Next year, for instance, the second nine weeks of Economics will focus on financial literacy for the everyday lives of young adults.

Other changes, Barkan noted, were made because students entering Gibbons were already familiar with certain content given changes made to the K-8 curriculum, especially in Technology Skills and World Geography; the content already was being covered in other Gibbons classes; and specific subjects, like nutrition and health and wellness, were not being adequately addressed. 

Students lifting weights in the weight room.

Gibbons responded with the Freshman Seminar. Barkan said the seminar infuses the goals and standards of a social studies course, like critical thinking, into a yearlong class that also provides students with technology skills and social and emotional learning.

“It is,” she noted, “a beautiful synthesis of courses that support the onboarding for every ninth grader to the Cardinal Gibbons experience.” That support, she added, continues all four years and provides a foundation for a lifetime.


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