Electives: A Catapult of Creativity

Jessica Jackson explores her creativity and applies her knowledge acquired through the photography elective to her photos today.

Noelle Wu, Photojournalist

In a sea of academic classes, electives and their creative appeal lure in students yearning for a way to showcase their ingenuity and aptitudes. From Photography to Spanish, the benefits have been apparent in the way that students become more motivated, or their advancements towards pursuing their career of choice. Elective classes let students recognize their strengths and provide opportunities that reveal skill sets that may not be recognizable in other core subjects. Achieving performance objectives or picking up a new tongue demands students to be organized, create ambitions, and assess their progress. 

Firstly, electives provide students with the opportunity to present themselves in ways that they desire. Many students are not always drawn to core curriculums, so by taking an elective and being a part of a community that shares the same interest, the student is able to truly express themselves. In the midst of the stress of a high school schedule, electives provide a respite in which students may focus on courses that they genuinely love and refine talents that they already have an innate ability for. Additionally, electives may display novel career paths and introduce students to unexplored knacks. These courses often provide a look into the special industry, providing them with experience that is unattainable through a core subject. By taking an elective, students are able to widen their horizon of skills and expertise to multiple specialties. By taking another course that may be very different from core subjects, students will be encouraged to organize their time and physical materials to maximize their learning and growth as much as possible.

The College Board emphasizes the significance of electives, saying, “School electives prepare you for tomorrow, setting the stage for new interests, college majors, and career paths. Although they may seem like simply ‘extra’ classes while you’re still in high school, electives can be critical to your future.” Yorba Linda High School Alumni Jessica Jackson perfectly demonstrates how critical these electives really can be towards one’s career. In an exclusive interview with Jackson, she begins, “I was always interested in photography. When I was younger, I used to steal my mom’s camera and take photos of my sister playing soccer.” Jackson’s initial love for photography led her into taking the photography elective during her junior year, taught by Yorba Linda High School’s Mr. Cadra. “I had heard so many great things about Mr. Cadra’s class, and I was excited to learn what the hype was about,” she continues, “(and) the following year I signed up for AP photography and absolutely fell in love with it!” Through the elective, Jackson’s initial love grew into true passion. “It was actually in Mr. Cadra’s class that I found that I loved photography,” Jackson recalls, “He did a great job of giving us projects that allowed us to explore all avenues of photography. I really fell in love with portrait photography in his class and was able to practice with my friends.” 

As a natural extension of Jackson’s devotion to the art, her skills acquired through the elective brought her to a new side job. “I (began) shooting senior portraits for friends and weddings while in college, (where) I ended up deciding to double major in photography and communications… I found my passion for wedding and couple photography while attending California Baptist University. My professors were so encouraging, and having a place where art was so valued really encouraged me on my journey to make this a career.” When asked how important the elective was to launch her into her career, Jackson explains, “Without taking photography as an elective, I would have never learned how to really use a camera, and I wouldn’t be doing photography full time now. I never imagined photography could be a successful career, but there are actually a few of us from that class that do it full time now.”

“Without taking photography as an elective, I would have never learned how to really use a camera, and I wouldn’t be doing photography full time now.”

— Jessica Jackson

Jackson further expresses her gratitude for the elective and Mr. Cadra, adding, “I even sent Mr. Cadra an email thanking him a few years back for all he taught me.” Jackson’s appreciation is a universal feeling to all students in extra electives provided by their schools. While we do have the curriculum to thank, many teachers teaching electives are often taking this extra responsibility alongside their other class of a core subject. Without these dedicated teachers, electives and even students would not thrive in these special industries as electives give students a sneak peak at these specialties. Jackson found substantial value in her time in high school learning about photography.  Right out of college Jackson found great success as “most of (her) friends were getting engaged right out of college and needed a cheaper wedding photographer.” Jackson was able to take the situation and make the most of it, saying, “I was able to book a majority of those types of weddings, and it really kick started my career. I was able to learn very quickly how to market myself and ended up being able to book out very quickly!”

Her love and passion for photography has never since fizzled out; she reflects, “It has been a joy the last 6 years being able to capture the best day of my couple’s lives, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else! As stressful and as hectic as it can be, I have witnessed the sweetest and most special moments of so many people’s lives. Wedding photography is so special and intimate, and I have loved every minute of it.”