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Image: Kevin Bailey

The contents of high-schoolers’ backpacks have changed a lot in recent years. Gone are the massive, scrawled-over textbooks and, in many cases, notebooks and pencils. In their place: iPads and laptops, belonging to students who don’t know (and, shockingly, may not care) how heavy your old boulder-size backpack was. That’s not all that’s changed, either. Many of today’s high schools are adding classes and electives that reach far beyond algebra and woodshop, the better to compete with modern distractions. Below, a sampling:

Heights High School

(formerly Reagan; HISD)

For Art Car Class, students create a masterpiece to enter in the annual Art Car Parade. There’s also a mariachi elective for beginning and advanced students, as well as a video-editing class, in which students learn the ins and outs of Final Cut Pro and Studio Pro on up-to-date camera equipment and Apple computers.

Stratford High School

(Spring Branch ISD)

In Sports and Entertainment Marketing, tomorrow’s agents learn, according to the syllabus, that the pro-sports world “isn’t just a game—it’s business.” In Interior Design class, budding decorators learn about textiles, trends and color theory. And there’s even a spin class that counts as a PE credit.

Kinkaid High School

(Piney Point Village, private)

Students can earn an English credit by taking On the Fringes: Rebels and Outcasts, which utilizes sources such as Oedipus Rex and HBO’s The Wire. A Marine Sciences class includes a field study of marine systems in Galveston. And in Experimental & Documentary Filmmaking, students learn everything from on-camera interviewing techniques to abstract cinematography.

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