Rooted in a tradition of prolific writing, round table Socratic discussion, and richly diverse texts, our Upper School English program immerses students in the craftsmanship and power of words.
During the high school career, each Upper School student composes a variety of narrative, persuasive, descriptive, analytical and expository essays; several extensive research papers; and an array of outlines, oral presentation notes, poems, short stories, and reader responses. We strive to help students develop a distinctive writing voice, as well as the ability to revise for clarity, accuracy, and precision. Regular peer editing, sharing student work aloud in class, publication opportunities, participation in local contests and readings, and individual teacher-student conferences illustrate the school's commitment to writing.
Just as important, the round table format of our English classrooms reflects our dedication to the art of discussing literature. Teachers serve as guides and facilitators, while study questions, reading journals, and other preparatory writing assignments provide focus and accountability. For example, a teacher might ask her students to write on the following questions before discussing the previous evening’s reading assignment: “What does the event in chapter ten reveal about the protagonist’s most deeply held beliefs? How might the antagonist describe the same event?” Effectively inviting silence into the classroom, setting a tone of curiosity and imagination, and modeling genuine listening are skills the English teacher continually strives to master.
Coordination of Upper School English and History courses helps enrich our students’ exposure to other times and cultures, and deepens their understanding of their own place in the world. Ninth graders, for instance, read African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Middle Eastern texts while studying world cultures in their freshman social studies course. Field trips to area museums, the Vietnam War Memorial, or a Japanese garden enhance and expand the classroom triad of reading, writing and discourse, as do guest speakers, after-school film seminars, and even an occasional Indian feast or African dance performance.
Our English classrooms are rigorous, dynamic, nurturing, expansive environments where students and teachers alike explore the world within and without through language – the language of expression, of reflection and of discovery.