Elective Courses

Santiago is known for its extensive exploratory elective program, offering students unique opportunities, unlike other middle schools, to prepare them for college and career by building 21st Century Skills and confidence in all courses. 

California Industry Sector Pathways Image


Join our two Santiago students as they take you on a tour with our Electives Video.



7th Grade Exploratory Art


Exploratory art is a trimester-long, beginning course in which students will be introduced to a variety of materials, visual art techniques, and creative expressions. Students focus on developing drawing and painting skills, as well as expanding their artistic vocabulary to describe how their application of the elements of art and principles of design contribute to what they want to express. Aware that art is not created in isolation, they compare and contrast works from different time periods and cultures and reflect on the artists’ styles in relation to time and place. In the process they are identifying what they believe to be important to look for in works of art and what criteria they want to apply as they critique those works. Furthermore, students apply what they learn in the visual arts across subject areas; they develop competencies and creative skills in problem solving, communication, and management of time and resources that contribute to lifelong learning and career skills. They also learn about careers in and related to the visual arts by examining art, photography, and other two and three-dimensional images, comparing how different visual representations of the same object lead to different interpretations of its meaning.


8th Grade Art and Design


Art and design is a year-long course in which students will explore color theory, design principles, a variety of materials, and various creative expressions. Eighth-grade students have a foundation in each of the four arts disciplines that serves as a springboard into deeper study of: Broader views of the world, and the role the arts play in people’s lives. Students will produce original works of art by applying newly learned artistic techniques. Students combine their skills in artistic perception and aesthetic valuing to analyze and justify the artistic choices they make about their own work and determine how those choices contribute to the expressive quality of the work. Students will be exposed to historical and cultural aspects of the visual arts, and with their deepened understanding of the different cultural dimensions in the arts, students find their voice in an ever-changing world. Students will also: Learn about current art technologies; analyze connections to other art forms and academics; study careers in drawing, painting, and graphic design; and with ample opportunities to collaborate with other students with the same interests in the arts, they can determine more fully their own points of view and artistic choices.




Concert Band

This course provides students with performance experience on a number of musician instruments. Students can choose between: trumpet, clarinet, flute, saxophone, trombone, baritone, and percussion instruments.


The goal of Computers is to make sure each student is able to learn in a digital environment.  They will learn Google Sheets, Docs, Draw, and Slide.  In addition, the students will enroll in Code.org to complete a course in coding.  Parents should be advised that digital learning has become the main mode of learning for 21st Century students.  This course will help students learn to navigate through online digital learning modules.  Once the course is completed, the students will be able to obtain, process, and produce digital information.

The seventh grade computers class has been working on their Electronic Entertainment Project. Each student designed and coded their own computer game or interactive story. Students were able to play, test and review each other's projects.

Culinary Arts

Our Philosophy

To provide introductory knowledge and training in the field of culinary arts so students have skills to utilize in the home, as well as a smooth transition into future culinary programs.

Santiago students at Orange Home Grown Farm to Table

Students at Orange Home Grown Farm to Table


The hospitality industry is one of the largest in the United States.  It is an ever-changing field with unlimited opportunities for young people who have mastered the basic skills and have sufficient motivation and drive to always continue to expand their knowledge through industry work or further their hospitality education and training.  

SCMS at Katella Grill

Students visit Katella Grill

My Beliefs:

  • Success of our students starts at home.  With the help of our families, we can encourage our students to be mindful thinkers and explorers.
  • Safety is the most important piece of our foundation for culinary skills.  As students learn and explore the reasons behind safety and sanitation, they will gain the knowledge and theory connected to the practice.
  • Culinary arts is a skill that crosses all boundaries and is open for people of all backgrounds.  Providing these skills to our students will help them see how all types of people can come together to work in a supportive environment.

Turquoise Tornado

Our courses include:

  • An introduction to sanitation and safety
  • Proper tool and equipment use
  • Introductory food preparation & recipes
  • Support services
  • Introductory baking
  • Introductory dining room service

All of these areas are done in a variety of food service settings and set at a pace for easy transition into the consecutive culinary programs.  Students are encouraged to be productive, caring of the quality of their work, and responsible with equipment and supplies.  The program also introduces the students to the hospitality industry.  In addition to culinary art skills, the program introduced related math skills, employability skills, respect for class members, instructors, promoting a team environment, proper sanitation, personal hygiene, personal safety, as well as the safety of each guest.

Exploratory Course

(7th Grade Wheel)

Students participate in one trimester of classes where they learn the basics of nutrition, food safety, sanitation, and skills.  

Class themes include:

  • Kitchen Safety
  • Proper Food Handling
  • Knife Safety
  • Utensils
  • Food Allergies
  • Baking
  • Foods in History
  • Salad Your Way
  • Cooking Contest

Some recipes students will participate in making include vegetable soup, chocolate chip cookies, egg salad tea sandwiches, fruit salsa with cinnamon crisps, vegetables three ways, and more.

8th Grade Culinary Arts

(Year-long Curriculum)

Along with learning the basic skills provided in the 7th grade wheel, our 8th grade students experience themes including:

  • Food Handler Certification
  • Community with food pantries & soup kitchens
  • Nutrition & Health
  • Masters of the Recipes
  • Weights & Measures
  • Plating
  • Flavor Profiles
  • Meat
  • Sustainable Farming
  • Food Truck Challenge
  • Food Labels
  • Dairy
  • Pasta
  • Legumes
  • Rice
  • Soup
  • Chopped Challenge

8th Grade Culinary Arts (cont.):

Some recipes for our 8th graders include:  Muffins Your Way, sweet & savory toasts, quick breads, turkey tacos, trail mix, nut butters, overnight oats, pasta, black bean and roasted corn salad, hummus, sushi, chicken tortilla soup, and more.  The year-long course will provide students additional opportunities to create their own recipes, try out their ideas, and be tested with fun and exciting challenges.

Community Connections:  Building foundational skills with our partners in the community is one of our goals for the culinary arts program at Santiago.  Over the summer, we spent time visiting Katella Grill where Mike Learakos and Joe Byrne taught our students about Waste Not OC and how our kitchen will help bring meals to those in need.  The Santiago Culinary Arts program will receive donations from the community that would normally be considered "waste."  With this, our students will clean and prepare the food to donate back into the community through the Waste Not OC coalition where we will help "feed the need."

Another community connection our culinary students are building is with Orange Home Grown (OHG) right here in our own backyard.  Students learn about farming, sustainability, composting, and how to make healthy meals.  Our students are able to work hand-in-hand with this program by providing service to the community that helps feed those in need.

How to Get Involved

You can get more information on the culinary arts program including how to get involved by visiting the class website:  www.kalmanskitchen.weebly.com

Mrs. Kalman, Culinary Arts Teacher

Mrs. Kalman 

Culinary Arts Teacher

Wise Guys Pizzeria is another friend of our culinary arts program here at Santiago.  Students had the opportunity to visit the kitchen, learn about all aspects of restaurants, and get hands-on in helping with prep, set-up, and making pizzas.  We love building these relationships and look forward to having these community icons visit our classroom to help with instruction and relationships throughout the year.

Wise Guys Pizzaria visit from SCMS

Wise Guys Pizzaria (YouTube)


Film Department Goal: Give students the opportunity to learn about film as a form of narrative art and provide the opportunity to gain hands-on experience producing their own short films in various styles and genres.


What parents should know: Students will complete several film development cycles over the course of the trimester; gaining experience in development, pre-production, production, post-production, and sale/marketing. Many projects require students to work collaboratively in small production teams.


Software used:

Scripting: Final Draft Writer

Storyboarding: Storyboard That​

Media Management: Google Drive

Editing: iMovie

Animation: PowToon

Students in film class experiment with forced perspective

Students  experimenting with forced perspective, a procedure that uses optical illusion to make objects seem as though they are farther away, closer, larger or smaller than they actually are."

Guitar Ensemble

Guitar ensemble provides instruction on the six-string classical guitar. Students wil explore concepts in music history, music theory, aural skills as it relates to guitar and guitar performance.

Industrial Arts - Wood Shop

Mission Statement

“To provide a physically & emotionally safe environment where students are encouraged and empowered to express their creativity.”

-- Mr. Askenaze

What I Believe…

  • I believe each student is unique and has a wealth of information and perspectives to offer the rest of the class.
  • I believe that parental involvement is a critical part concerning the students’ learning success.
  • I believe that it is the student’s responsibility to learn and mine to facilitate the opportunity.
  • I believe that my profession touches the lives of tomorrow’s leaders and as such, I will do the best of my ability to see them succeed.

Safety First

Students are required to pass All safely tests with a perfect score of 100% prior to using tools or machines in the woodshop.  Once they have passed, students must then take a “Performance Test” in which I will critique and evaluate their safety practices.

Practice Safety Tests:

Band Saw Test                Drill Saw Test               General Shop Test     

Girl working at band saw


Not Just For Boys

Many girls are taking wood shop as part of their middle school experience, and LOVING IT.  Everyone deserves a chance to express their creativity.  Truth is, most of the girls make better wood shop projects than the boys anyway! 

Student working with machinary


Compassion In The Classroom 

I heard someone recently talk about how during Thanksgiving, we are surrounded by our family and loved ones, celebrating and reflecting on what we are thankful for, yet nearly every TV commercial that day is reminding us that the following morning stores are opening at 1:00AM to kick off the Christmas season. For me, Christmas is a time for humanity to express compassion for one another.  In my classroom I embed academics with what it means to apply compassion for those that need it the most.

Children from Uganda show their cars that Santiago students made

Student at band saw

Student working at drill press

Two children play with cars made my Santiago students

Children with toy trucks

Each year, the students in my Industrial Technology classes are involved in a Service-Learning project whereby they make two toy cars.  One car they keep, one car they will give away to a child in need.  Each year, for the last 10 years, Santiago woodshop students make and ship hundreds of these toy cars to orphanages within impoverished countries.  Some of these countries include Ukraine, India, Mexico, Uganda and one year Santiago students even hand delivered toy cars to a local children’s hospital in Fountain Valley California. 

Cars given to children in India

Student made car given to child in India

We partner with different organization so that the cars can be delivered where they are most needed.  Here is what one of the directors wrote after her team handed out the cars at one of the orphanages.  She wrote, “Let me try and tell you how happy the kids were when they received the cars.  First, we went and visited a small group of kids that come to a home before school every day to get some food.  There, this one lady has taken these kids on in helping feed them before they go off to school.  She is poor herself but has a heart for the kids.  She uses whatever money she has to buy food and the kids come in and all eat and stay there until they go to school.  We were able to meet some of these kids and give out the cars to them.  I told them how each of these cars were individually made by other kids in California.  The smiles on their faces were priceless.  As we gave them the cars the kids were all talking with each other about the shapes and colors.  It was such a joyful time for all of us.  We have some cars left and plan on taking more of them down in May of this year to Mexico and perhaps also on our next visit to Africa.” 

A wonderful collection of cars to be donated by Santiago students

Children with truck

Santiago student writes a special note to be given with donated car

So, what does it take to put a car into the hands of a child?  Well, more work than you might think.  Each car is crafted by a Santiago wood shop student and takes over 20 young-men or young-women-hours to make.  The cars are about the size of an outstretched hand and the process starts nearly a year ahead of time by contacting vendors throughout the area to donate supplies and machines to help our program. 

Young girl working behind band saw

Students sanding projects

Students carefully design and construct these cars using beautiful hardwoods and a variety of machines including the band saw, drill press, and table router.  Finally, each car is finished with 3 coats of clear lacquer.  These toy cars are little works of art! 

Spraying lacquer on toys


Students showing their cars and trucks to be donated to children around the world

It’s been said that much of teaching is done in a black box.  Meaning, students are taught a lot of things yet seldom are told why they need to know it.  Is it simply because the state sets certain standards that must be met?  I would like to think that what I’m trying to teach, although you can’t find it in a textbook, represents real learning…something that shapes the character of a young person.  Something that reminds them that they live not just in a local community, but within a global community, and they can positively effect that global community if they put their mind to it.  There are precious few times when a student can express their creativity while also learning something that can truly last a lifetime and change the way they see and interact with the world.

College & Beyond

“My hope is that all of my students attend college or advanced vocational trade school.  I view and teach my students as though they will ALL go on to college, but even if they do not, I know that the skills they learn in my class will last a lifetime and begin to lay the foundation for a successful career.”


Mr. Askenaze receives VOYA award

Jason Askenaze has been an avid woodworker for over 30 years and holds a certificate in Residential Construction from Orange Coast College.  After receiving his Bachelor’s degree from Long Beach State, he went on the receive his Master’s degree from Vanguard University.  For the past 15 years he has taught Industrial Technology ~ Woodshop at Santiago Charter Middle School and in 2017 was given the Voya Unsung Heroes Award in recognition of innovation and excellence in education.

For more information about how you can help Santiago’s Industrial Technology ~ Woodshop program, please contact Jason Askenaze or make out your donation to: “Santiago’s Woodshop” and send it to:

Santiago Charter Middle School

515 N. Rancho Santiago Blvd.

Orange, CA 92869

Music Exploratory

Music Exploratory

An introduction course to music, students will explore the different areas that make-up music. Topics covered include: music history (early music to modern/21st music), basic theory, aural training (singing), and instrumental playing.

Musical Theater

Santiago performing arts logo

GOAL: To empower students to "perform" (sing/dance/act) in public with more confidence and skill than before they took the class. 


1) This is a performance-oriented class. Students will perform in class and in public. 

2) There is no "audition" for this class. All that is required is a willingness to sing, dance, and act. Skill or ability is not required, only desire and/or willingness. 

3) Every student should get a C or better in this class. Most will get A's.

4) The only homework (generally) in this class is to memorize lines for performances. 

5) The end-of-trimester performance is required and will be a significant part of the student's grade. 


  • Reader's Theatre
  • Stage Fright
  • Listening Skills
  • Daily Journal Entries Improvisation
  • In class performances and games
  • Monologues & Scene Work
  • Technical Theatre


I have been working with junior and senior high students since 1970 when I began my teaching career in Florida. Through all those years, I have produced and/or directed scores of shows with amateur (usually youth) casts. My background includes two Masters Degrees and experience teacher at the high school and community college level, as well as, briefly, The University of Michigan. I am at Santiago because I discovered (when my daughter went through Santiago) that this is an outstanding school - one with which it is an honor to be associated. In addition to directing Santiago's Musical Theatre program, I have worked in Instrumental and Vocal Music, Special Education, Math/Science, Language Arts/History, our SIS program, 7th Grade Retention, Speech, and Santiago's award-winning Yearbook. 

In addition to my work at Santiago, I am Executive Assistant to the President of Pyro Spectaculars by Souza (largest producer of fireworks shows on the West Coast) and Resident Music Director at Mysterium Theatre in La Habra. 

In the world of large-scale outdoor pageantry I have played key roles in 3 Super Bowl Halftimes, the Papal Mass at Dodger Stadium, The World's Fair in Spokane, The Los Angeles Olympic Games, and a variety of national and international events. 

Cast of The Wizard of Oz



String Orchestra

Designed for students who perform on violin, viola, cello and double bass. Students explore music from the different eras in music. A fun course for all levels!

Public Speaking

Our goal is to have students present information that is appropriate for the purpose and audience and become comfortable speaking in a variety of contexts.  We have students present in small groups to gain confidence, as well as larger groups to fine tune their skills. Students play games, create videos, and present a variety of speeches.  

Music Practice Websites