English

The English Department provides a comprehensive and challenging curriculum in reading, composition, grammar, vocabulary development, and literary analysis. Beginning with a strong foundation course in literature and moving to a study of world literature and American literature, the program culminates in a richly varied selection of senior electives.  All college preparatory courses, and the honors program that culminates in Advanced Placement English, provide a strong foundation in study and critical thinking skills that prepare students for college level work. On all levels, writing and discussion emphasize analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Criteria for Honors and AP placement:

  • Freshman and sophomore students must achieve a grade of "A" or "A-" in a college preparatory class; or a "B+" or higher in the English I Accelerated or in the American Literature Honors class. Junior students must achieve grade of "A" or "A-" in Junior Electives; or a "B+" or higher in the AP English Literature and Composition class.
  • Students not currently in an honors or AP English class must take and pass the honors or AP challenge exam and have a cumulative academic GPA of 3.5 or higher.
  • Students must be approved for advanced class placement by the Department Chair.

Freshman Courses

English I
Grade 9 - Yearlong course

English I is a college preparatory course aimed at providing ninth grade students with the skills necessary to advance through the succeeding years in English. The course is intended to provide fundamental instruction in writing and reading, as well as grammar and vocabulary. Furthermore, students will learn skills in close reading, brainstorming, prewriting, note taking, and outlining. Literature is arranged by genre, offering a comprehensive overview of the different forms of literature students will study during the next four years. The writings are generally expository in nature and literature based; the opportunity for creative writing is also offered at different times throughout the course.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

English I Accelerated
Grade 9 - Yearlong course

English I Accelerated is a college preparatory course designed for those freshmen showing the highest level of skill development in English. The literary study in this class will focus on the characteristics of various genres, specifically short story, poetry, nonfiction, drama, and the novel. A comprehensive study of grammar and composition principles, as well as vocabulary development, is also a part of the English I Accelerated curriculum. Essays, written both in class and at home, are generally expository in nature, requiring students to respond to literature persuasively, analytically, and critically. Creative projects will also be offered throughout the year. Oral expression is emphasized through public speaking, seminars, and class discussion. Projects, writings, and discussions in this course will emphasize critical thinking skills.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Sophomore Courses

American Literature
Grade 10 - Yearlong course

This sophomore-level college preparatory course examines American Literature from its colonial origins to the present, including changes in subject matter and style. This course incorporates creative and expository writing, including literary analysis and research.

Additionally, this course emphasizes oral presentation skills, PSAT preparation, vocabulary, and grammar instruction. Students will be challenged to participate in class discussions and will learn to explore, as critical thinkers, the major themes of American literature and history.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

American Literature Honors
Grade 10 - Yearlong course

This is an accelerated English course for sophomores, focusing on American literature from its colonial origins to the present, including changes in subject matter and style.  This course incorporates creative and expository writing, including literary analysis and research.  The expectation is that students will develop more sophisticated collegiate-level writing, finding their unique voice through written expression.

Additionally, this course emphasizes oral presentation skills, PSAT preparation, vocabulary, and grammar instruction. Students will be challenged to participate in class discussions, will complete required independent reading assignments, and will learn to explore, as critical thinkers, the major themes of American literature and history.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Prerequisite: English I Accelerated with a "B+" or higher both semesters; or English I with an "A" or "A-" both semesters, department approval, and successful completion of challenge exam.

Junior Courses

AP English Literature and Composition
Grade 11 - Yearlong course

This is a world literature course designed to challenge the most advanced student to increase the breadth and depth of his/her knowledge of world literature and of philosophy, to improve his/her writing, to expand his/her vocabulary, and to refine his/her grammatical skills. The course is primarily structured chronologically; a central focus is an articulation of the developmental changes in world literature and philosophy from the Golden Age of Greece to the present. But material is also considered thematically, with a concern for transitions in the history of ideas and how those transitions are revealed in literature. Students will be required to read numerous pieces of literature from a group of authors represented in the Course Syllabus. Writing will primarily be interpretive, and eight to ten major essays will be required during the year. Vocabulary work will focus on typical SAT items. The grammar emphasis for the year is on problem areas that are regularly revealed in the writing, most notably parallel structure, placement of modifiers, and problems of agreement. The development of personal tone will also be addressed. Preparation for the AP exam will be a focus of each unit.  The course emphasizes the development of critical thinking skills. Students will be confronted with numerous opportunities for oral argumentation, which will help the student to develop his/her ability to articulate original, well-documented positions.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Students enrolled in this course are required to take the AP examination in May. There is a College Board fee assessed for this examination that will be added to the students' tuition. No final exam is administered in this course in the spring semester.

Prerequisite: American Literature Honors with a "B+" or higher both semesters; or American Literature with an "A" or "A-" both semesters; department approval;  and successful completion of challenge exam.

Electives

If Juniors are not enrolled in AP Literature and Composition, they are required to enroll in a yearlong Written Composition/English elective course. The following is a list of junior-level English elective offerings; each consists of a fall semester of instruction in Written Composition followed by a spring semester that focuses on a specific area of literary interest:

Written Composition/Dramatic Literature

Grade 11 - Yearlong course

The function of dramatic literature since its beginnings has been to hold up a mirror to society by presenting recognizable types of people, exposing the foibles and sometimes the triumphs of the age, and opening the minds of the audience to issues, concerns, or trifles of life. This course is designed to introduce students to the multi-faceted realm of dramatic literature by exploring thematic connections, development of character, literary techniques, and social significance within each work, all embracing the human condition. Students will read a diverse variety of plays and supplemental texts, research playwrights and historical context, perform oral presentations, and write both creative and critical papers to demonstrate proficiency. The goal is to recognize audience perceptions and appreciate the literary impact of the play being studied. Particular emphasis is placed upon the legacy of our western, theatrical origins and recognizing both the evolution and consistency of this tradition in modern works. Overall, this course is designed to make dramatic literature leap off the page and provide that mirror into which students may look and thus transform.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Written Composition/Finding Yourself in the World
Grade 11 - Yearlong course

Written Composition is a course designed to prepare students for college-level composition, including in-class and out-of-class essays. This class will help the student enhance his or her skills as a critical reader, writer, editor, and speaker. The course’s main focus will be practicing various writing techniques, experimenting with voice and style, and improving essay evaluation skills. Ultimately, the writing skills taught will ensure that every student is prepared and proficient, ready for entry-level collegiate writing requirements. Nonfiction essays by professional and student writers will be used as models for writing. Some types of papers students will write include evaluation, comparison/contrast, speculating about causes, and persuasion. Major requirements for the course are timed, in-class essays, out-of-class essays, and an essay/speech involving extensive research.

Finding Yourself in the World explores, through reading, writing, and thinking, the fundamental question: Who am I? What is an individual's place and unique contribution to this world? Students will be encouraged to think about why they hold the values they do, how they envision their future, and what they want their legacy to be. They will read and discuss literature, poetry, and short stories from around the world, as well as philosophy and introspective writing, to attain a better understanding of these questions. They will regularly write in a writer’s journal and routinely experiment with revising their writing. Students will be encouraged to think “outside of the box,” and will discover new ways to relate to themselves, their families, their communities, and their world through a variety of authors.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Written Composition/Literature of New York
Grade 11 - Yearlong course

Written Composition is a course designed to prepare students for college-level composition, including in-class and out-of-class essays. This class will help the student enhance his or her skills as a critical reader, writer, editor, and speaker. The course’s main focus will be practicing various writing techniques, experimenting with voice and style, and improving essay evaluation skills. Ultimately, the writing skills taught will ensure that every student is prepared and proficient, ready for entry-level collegiate writing requirements. Nonfiction essays by professional and student writers will be used as models for writing. Some types of papers students will write include evaluation, comparison/contrast, speculating about causes, and persuasion. Major requirements for the course are timed, in-class essays, out-of-class essays, and an essay/speech involving extensive research.

Literature of New York examines the power of a single city and its literature's evolution over the past centuries. By reading short stories, novels, drama, poems, as well as looking at films and art, students will come to understand how this ever-changing city has continually reflected current issues about city life, culture, business, and America. How did these elements, as well as the people, begin to produce a literature that is uniquely New York? From the arrival of the Dutch in 1601 to the shattering events of 9/11, students will explore this region's literature against the backdrop of the city that never sleeps.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Written Composition/Literature of the Quest
Grade 11 - Yearlong course

Written Composition is a course designed to prepare students for college-level composition, including in-class and out-of-class essays. This class will help the student enhance his or her skills as a critical reader, writer, editor, and speaker. The course’s main focus will be practicing various writing techniques, experimenting with voice and style, and improving essay evaluation skills. Ultimately, the writing skills taught will ensure that every student is prepared and proficient, ready for entry-level collegiate writing requirements. Nonfiction essays by professional and student writers will be used as models for writing. Some types of papers students will write include evaluation, comparison/contrast, speculating about causes, and persuasion. Major requirements for the course are timed, in-class essays, out-of-class essays, and an essay/speech involving extensive research.

Literature of the Quest explores stories of heroes and heroines who undertake a quest in order to achieve a specific goal. Whether the goal of the quest is to attain a physical object or something much more intangible, each quest traces the hero's development through a series of trials that often follows a set pattern and often includes a number of archetypal characters like the sidekick and the wise man. The aim of the course is to explore the hero's development throughout this quest while also examining the quest motifs connecting numberous works of literature across both genre and human experience.  

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Written Composition/A Moveable Feast
Grade 11 - Yearlong course

Written Composition is a course designed to prepare students for college-level composition, including in-class and out-of-class essays. This class will help the student enhance his or her skills as a critical reader, writer, editor, and speaker. The course’s main focus will be practicing various writing techniques, experimenting with voice and style, and improving essay evaluation skills. Ultimately, the writing skills taught will ensure that every student is prepared and proficient, ready for entry-level collegiate writing requirements. Nonfiction essays by professional and student writers will be used as models for writing. Some types of papers students will write include evaluation, comparison/contrast, speculating about causes, and persuasion. Major requirements for the course are timed, in-class essays, out-of-class essays, and an essay/speech involving extensive research.

A Moveable Feast--taken from the moniker of Hemingway's acclaimed memoir, A Moveable Feast, profiling the intersection of food and culture in 1920's Paris--is a course designed to introduce students to some of the best food writing of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The course is also designed to provide students with a how to on writing about the subject of food and culture in a myriad of interesting and creative ways. Some of the specific readings include profiles of the country's most acclaimed chefs and what inspires them to produce award winning cuisine; fictional readings highlighting gastronomy and the subject of food; and non-fictional readings on some of the more recent issues and debates concerning food production in the United States.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Senior Courses

AP English Language and Composition
Grade 12 - Yearlong course

This course engages students in becoming skilled readers of nonfiction prose written in a variety of periods, disciplines, and rhetorical contexts and in becoming skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. Both the writing and the reading will make students aware of the writer’s purpose, audience expectations, and the way generic conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing. The course allows students to write in a variety of forms—narrative, exploratory, expository, argumentative, and analytical – and on a variety of subjects from personal experiences to public policies, from imaginative literature to popular culture. While preparation for the AP exam will be the focus, students will also write literary analysis essays. The overarching purpose is to enable students to write effectively and confidently.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Students enrolled in this course are required to take the AP examination in May. There is a College Board fee assessed for this examination that will be added to the students' tuition. No final exam is administered in this course in the spring semester.

Prerequisite: Junior English electives with an "A or A-" both semesters; department approval; and successful completion of challenge exam. Students in AP English Literature and Composition must receive a grade of "B+" or higher at the end of each semester.

Electives

Seniors not enrolled in AP English Language and Composition are required to enroll in two, semester-long English electives from the list that follows. The course selection process requires seniors to rank their preferences from among the courses offered.

African-American Literature
Grade 12 - Semester course

This course provides a survey of African-American literature from the 19th century to the present. In this course, the students will look at African-American culture through the lenses of fiction, poetry, song, non-fiction, and film. These cultural texts will allow students to see how the American notions of freedom, equality, gender, and literature have impacted African-American life.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

British Literature
Grade 12 - Semester course

In British history, the Romantic period (late 1700's through the mid-1800's) was a time of self-discovery and expression in response to the unrest brought on by the Industrial Revolution. Writers and poets were pushed to reflect on the individual's place and identity in an emerging society in which technology surpassed human ability. addressing themes of corruption, the human condition, and a wistful remembrance of simpler times, students studying this literary period will build historical and literary perspective by comparing the advances in their lifetimes to those of the Romantics. Through analysis of novels, essays, and poetry of the period, students will be exposed to work that begs them to consider what influences them and how they respond to the societal pressures put upon their generation and those to come. 

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Contemporary Authors
Grade 12 - Semester course

This course focuses on the study of four contemporary novels in which the characters are on a journey of self-discovery. In discussing and analyzing the issues and obstacles these characters face in their search for self, students can learn about themselves and the contemporary world. Students are encouraged to question themselves through discussions and in a variety of writing assignments.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

The Female Voice in Literature
Grade 12 - Semester course

The Female Voice in Literature is designed to examine the definition of the female voice and to explore the impact of the female voice in literature. Students of both genders will better appreciate literature upon understanding the phenomenon of the female voice. The course will explore why the female voice is so important to identify, to understand, and to analyse by looking at the key experiences, topics, and observations that are enhanced by a woman's voice. Throughout the course students will be challenged to examine dominant cultural sterotypes that continue to impact the ways in which the female voice is perceived and received by readers around the world.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Oral Composition
Grade 12 - Semester course

Oral Composition is a one-semester course designed to train students in the preparation, delivery, and assessment of public speaking in formal and informal situations. Additionally, students continue to develop and hone their writing skills through a series of essays and short writing assignments. The speeches and essays become more complex, moving from media analysis to formal debate, incorporating research and technology as students learn to organize and deliver information through written and oral communication.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course