English Courses


Following each English course title is a number indicating the course’s credit value. For example, (1) equals a full-year course; (1/2) equals a semester course.

Honors and Advanced Placement classes have been instituted as integral parts of our academic program. Honors courses that have more rigorous expectations are intended to prepare the student for the Advanced Placement Program. The term “Advanced Placement” is given to a college-level course, the content of which is guided by the recommended course description of the Advanced Placement Program of the College Entrance Examination Board. Upon the completion of these courses, the student is required to take the Advanced Placement Examination.

The English Program is planned to provide growth in reading, composition, and language study, according to the intellectual and social maturity of each student. To varying degrees and at different grade levels, the English program encourages students to appreciate leisure reading by studying important literature which contains ideas important to them and their society; to express themselves in both writing and speaking in an efficient, well-ordered, intelligent manner; and to develop habits of accurate thinking through constant practice and incisive teacher direction.

The study of literature helps the student to develop social and personal attitudes important for the present as well as the future. He/she learns that the ideas reflected in all literature represent an individual’s concern with the world as well as the regional community, and that his/her role in life must be a responsible, intelligent, involved, and positive one. In addition to knowing and appreciating specific literary works, the student also develops a better understanding of self through acquaintance with great literary minds and ideas. A primary objective of literature study is to equip the student with the skills and attitudes necessary to make him or her a competent and independent reader and lay critic.

At each grade level, there are three basic anthologies stressing chronological, thematic, and cultural approaches to the literature. The texts, which provide a survey, give students a familiarity with and an understanding of the major movements, literary periods, and influences which shape an important body of literature. However, the intention of each course stresses not literary history but an evaluation of the universally accepted masterpieces of literature, with appropriate in-depth study of those masterpieces which critics, students, and teachers agree best illuminate our involvement with the universal and traditional problems in our society.

In all writing, students are taught to express themselves in clear, effective prose, with specific knowledge of their purpose and a thorough understanding of the skills and techniques essential to various forms of written communication. These skills and techniques include emphasis on mechanics; on the study of the word, the sentence, and the paragraph as structural writing units; and on the process of organizing ideas into themes.

For students of recognized ability who demonstrate exceptional talent and intellectual maturity, honors courses are given at the ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade levels. These courses begin a three year sequential program culminating in a college-level Advanced Placement Course given in the twelfth grade.

The English as a Second Language program is a multi-level program designed to meet the needs of foreign students who are unable to function independently in regular English classes. The program provides group instruction in communication skills and runs the gamut from survival skills on the beginning level to advanced grammar, and writing skills on the upper level. The sequence of attaining proficiency in a skill area follows the format of identification, discrimination, guided production, semi-guided production, and finally free production. Placement in the classes is contingent upon standardized testing and teacher and guidance personnel recommendation.

In fulfillment of English IV requirements, students shall select from the following courses (one full
year or two half-year courses).

Students explore themes relevant to the 20th and 20th century modern American experience. Students should take the skills they have acquired and apply them to a greater understanding of modern American literature and culture in order to become better readers, writers, and thinkers. They will explore themes (class, race, gender, war) relevant to contemporary American society and trace their roots back to early American literature. They will also discuss the responsibilities of citizenship while focusing on defining identity, heroism, redemption, dignity, success, and freedom as relevant to the contemporary American Dream.

Throughout the course of the year, students read and define a popular literary genre (Detective Fiction), see how it has developed over time, and understand its historical, cultural, political, social and psychological dimensions.

In this course, Students will learn and apply the principles of Positive Psychology by reading fiction and non-fiction texts, journaling, writing non-fiction, and engaging in exercises designed to help them apply what they are learning.

With the world shrinking because of the development of technology, it is important for our students to have an opportunity to understand the literature of people in other parts of the world to develop an appreciation of disparate perspectives. Students will see how literatures from around the world are the result of unique cultural contexts and how texts from other cultural traditions continue and/or question aesthetic, social, and moral traditions. Students in Traditions in World Literature will continue to develop both their critical reading and expository writing skills as a core mission of the class and as a preparation for academic work at the college level.

This course examines the profound influence and role sports play in American society through analysis of literature and media. The always changing, always controversial topic of sport demonstrates how language and image create a story. Sports journalism, although a non-fiction medium, can be an effective medium for analyzing the effects of language, rhetoric, bias, and style.

This course explores the genre of fantasy from its origins in legend and fairy tales, and ultimately, to the novels that we know and love today. Through whole-class and choice fantasy novels, students will experience a unique societal structure and explore how the worlds created by these authors collide with our real world. Starting with King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table, students will develop an appreciation for a genre that, to some, represents escapism and, to others, represents a critical, allegorical look at the "real" world.

The course provides students with a full year of writing instruction following a workshop model. Students also have an opportunity to read popular genres level including sports fiction, fantasy fiction, contemporary literature and Positive Psychology, and Detective Fiction.

Students would focus on four major units of study: The Senior Experience and Application Process, Media Literacy and Civic Engagement, Ethics and Integrity, and Community and Interpersonal Development. Because the nature of each unit is practical application, students would be getting a “hands-on” learning experience.

This year long honors level course in Asian Literature endeavors to give seniors an opportunity to study an amalgam of texts that represent some of the religious and philosophical movements that have shaped both the literature and thought of both Central and East Asia.  Works such as The Dhammapada, The Bhagavad Gita, The Analects, and Tao Te Ching will be juxtaposed with modern literature such as Dai Sijieís Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress and Bharati Mukherjeeís Jasmine to provide pupils with an appreciation of the richness and breadth of Asian Literature.  As in any honors course, students will write with insight and lucidity about the works studied in the class.

The class objective is the study of parallel archetypes and motifs in world mythology and literature. The class will use the work of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung as its foundation while attempting to uncover origins of symbolism and cultural ideology in seminal mythology and literature. Students will use the works of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung to examine archetypal patterns in texts from around the world including but not limited to oral myth and fairy tales from all five continents. Students would use J.F. Bierlenís Parallel Myths as a foundational text to begin the study of The Homeric Hymns, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Bible, works of Sophocles, Dante, Ovid, Conrad, Camus, Joyce, Plath, Yeats, Neihardt, and Waley.

The Advanced Placement Course, a college level program given in the twelfth grade, is open to students who have shown exceptional ability in ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade English. This course emphasizes analytical and argumentative composition; careful analysis of novels, poems, plays, and essays; and the importance of original interpretation and research which involves the intelligent use of critical commentaries, both of which demand the incisiveness and sophistication of a sensitive and responsible reader. Students enrolled in this course will be urged to take the Advanced Placement Examination, which, if satisfactorily completed, will enable students to earn college credit or advanced standing in college English courses. The course follows the Advanced Placement Program syllabus, which emphasizes to a greater degree those basic attitudes stressed in Honors English II and III. Course requirements for all AP Courses will include participation in the AP exam published by the College Board.


In addition to courses described above, students may elect one or more of the following courses. Credit will be given for these courses, but they will not satisfy graduation requirements.

An integral part of the continuing attempt to improve the skills of communication, Journalism includes instruction in writing journalistic articles, gathering news for publication, editing, financing and selling a school newspaper. All students participate in publishing the school newspaper.

Advanced Journalism, a one-year elective for eleventh and twelfth grade students who have completed Journalism, is a course for members of the school newspaper's editorial board. Students in this supervisory capacity will be responsible for assigning articles, designing page plans, conferring with reporters, revising copy and consulting with the faculty advisor of the school paper and with the printer. Students will be expected to fulfill all obligations required for publishing the school newspaper.

This course emphasizes film history and video production. Students will screen and analyze films which range from silent classics to recent, popular works. Besides viewing these films each week, students will make their own videos and will use video cameras to master basic shooting and computer editing techniques.

This course provides an opportunity for students to express their often suppressed inner voices through the literary media of poetry, autobiography, short story, and drama.

Dramatics is offered as an elective for those students interested in any phase of play production. The course considers a comparison of the objective and method styles of acting, various stage designs and techniques, and a general analysis of staging processes. It also studies the history of the theatre, directing, costuming, writing and those specialized skills related to television and films.

Speech provides an opportunity to develop poise, confidence and style in all speaking situations. The course emphasizes public speaking, group discussions (panels, symposiums, round tables), proper articulation and pronunciation, oral interpretation of literature, parliamentary procedure and the art of conversation.

Students who wish to improve their skills in reading comprehension and to develop the sophisticated level of vocabulary necessary to ensure success on college entrance examinations should take this course. An emphasis is also placed upon sound test taking strategies for the analogy, sentence completion, and reading comprehension sections of the exams.

This course will examine women authors and their characters, themes and styles. Each unit will consider literature of varying time periods, with emphasis on contemporary multi-cultural female voices. The focus is an exploration of society’s attitudes toward women and women’s attitudes toward themselves, their environment and their varied roles as daughters, mothers, sisters, wives, lovers and friends. This course’s multi-cultural approach yields the broadest possible perspective: though women speak in many voices, they hold their womanhood in common.

DEBATE   1/2
This 1/2 year elective offers 10th, 11th and 12th graders interested in Speech and Forensics-Debate an opportunity to develop skills such as logic and reasoning, research and analysis, and argumentative presentation. The course introduces students to different types of debates such as Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Cross-Examination, Spontaneous Argumentation, Team Policy Debate, and Parliamentary Debate.

The English elective in Modern Poetry offers students interested in both poetry and the study of literature an opportunity to explore the development of the genre from the nineteenth century to the present. While examining modernism and its impact on today’s poetry, the course will also explore the way in which selected poets of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries influenced modern poets and their poetry. This class is an excellent introduction to the study of literature in general and poetry in particular. In addition to the study of modern poetry, the Modern Poetry elective will give students the chance to craft their own poems.

This course is designed for qualified eleventh and twelfth grade students who want to improve their writing skills and prepare for the Advanced Placement exam in Language and Composition, an exam many colleges require of incoming students seeking an exemption from the typical freshman composition course. Students will read a wide selection of the various modes of non-fiction (description, exposition and argumentation), examine the strategies and techniques of effective writing, and employ these strategies and techniques in their own frequent writing assignments; these assignments will include analysis of works of non-fiction and essays on a variety of topics, with particular emphasis placed on writing argumentation. The writing assignments will reflect the types of essays students are asked to write on the AP Language and Composition exam; the analysis of writing techniques and strategies will also help students prepare for the multiple-choice questions on the exam. Course requirements for all AP Courses will include participation in the AP exam published by the College Board.