English Language Arts

High school students will move through the high school English language arts curriculum at a pace dependent on their academic grade level and language proficiency. Those for whom English is a second language may first take remedial ESL courses, but most students entering high school in 9th grade will start with English Language Arts 9.

English Language Arts 9

ELA 9 helps students to hone their academic writing skills and gain skills in developing analytical and evaluative thinking. In particular, students practice responding to literature through the development of comparative, persuasive, and expository essay writing. Students apply knowledge of figurative language to analyze author purpose, theme, and plot. Students are also expected to write informational and narrative essays. Students in this course participate in a systematic program of direct vocabulary study. Selections of literature range across a wide range of genres, from poetry and novels to news writing and nonfiction.

English Language Arts 10

ELA 10 teaches student to develop effective expression through the study of classical world literature as well as literary nonfiction, along with other selections. The student will gain the confidence, know-how, and ability to prepare and deliver an effective message in a variety of ways for different audiences. Students learn how to write persuasively as well as present their ideas orally and make use of visual aids. Emphasis is also placed on the close-reading skills necessary for college readiness.

English Language Arts 11

ELA 11 focuses on literary appreciation and the expository essay. Representative canonical works, such as Homer’s Odyssey, are selected with a focus on enduring themes and concerns. The course includes an introduction to poetry with a survey of various styles and approaches employed by poets. Students continue to refine their reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, and writing skills throughout the course. Speaking skills are further developed at this level through oral presentations. This course also prepares students to take the SAT.

English Language Arts 12

ELA 12 involves the study of major works of literature from the British tradition, typically including Austen and Shakespeare. Emphasis is placed on classic essays and lyric poetry, along with developing the habits of lifelong readers. Students will read selections in different genres and apply a variety of reading strategies, particularly literary comprehension, appropriate for reading each selection. Students will analyze literary elements, use a variety of strategies to build vocabulary; learn elements of grammar, usage, and style; and use recursive writing processes to write in a variety of forms.

Creative Writing Honors

Creative Writing Honors is an honors English seminar open to students who have completed English Language Arts 12 and have taken the SAT. Students must be nominated by faculty to be considered for the course. Run in a workshop format, the course explores the finer points of the writing craft, from screenwriting and dialogue to crafting nonfiction that sings. The course aims to equip student writers with a sophisticated “writer’s toolbox,” unique to each student. Units of study change each year and typically include personal narrative, literary and creative nonfiction, the art of writing reviews, biographical writing and interviewing, and blogging about the arts. The course also includes a reading component and exercises meant to foster ever-increasing language and stylistic sensitivity. The course is highly interactive and includes regular class discussion as well as peer conferencing, and culminates in the production of a writer’s portfolio. As the course is highly individualized and text selections, assignments, and themes change each year, it may be repeated for credit.