We strive to help students express themselves with clarity and power orally as well as in writing. We want them to be able to generate authentic, nuanced questions and original ideas. Reading literature with sensitivity and exploring varied cultural perspectives are also critical. Students write frequently. Readings range from the canonic to the contemporary and roam over a wide landscape of cultures and voices both in original English and in translation. Most genres are represented, including novels, short stories, essays, poetry, plays, graphic novels, and film. Classes are taught seminar-style. Lecture is rare. Class participation is essential as students try out their ideas aloud.

Creative Writing

.5 credit Elective open to 10th, 11th 12th grade
Students write daily in this course, experimenting in genres that may include poetry, short story, and creative non-fiction. Study includes readings in each genre as models with emphasis on learning craft. Students share and workshop their writing with one another. Students also focus on the process of revising creative work, producing multiple drafts and critiquing. At the end of the trimester, each writer will create a portfolio of work.

Dramatic Literature

.5 credit Elective open to 10th, 11th 12th grade Each week we will read a play and discuss its themes and cultural importance as well as practical character and scene analysis. Curriculum will include plays from Greek, Early Modern, Contemporary, and World theater. We will read plays aloud in class as well as independently out of class. Short-writing assignments will focus on character analysis, close-reading, and self-reflection. Additionally, there will be a research-based presentation and a long-form analytic essay. This course will introduce students to a wide-variety of playwrights and dramatic styles. For many students it will be a starting point for appreciating theater and learning to read plays. For students who are already engaged in the theater program, it will offer an English course that connects to their passion and prepares them for the types of theater course they will take in college.

Introduction to Media Studies

.5 credit Elective open to 11th and 12th grade
How does the way we consume media influence the way we think about the world around us? How do we understand our own power and privilege through lenses of race, class and gender? How much of our own sense of ourselves is socially constructed? How do we learn to “read” visual information in still and moving pictures? This class will address these questions, equipping students with the tools to analyze and critique various forms of media. Students will use the language of critical thinking (premise, implication, inference, assumption, ambiguity and nuance) to pull apart the messages layered in film, television, music, advertisements, video games, and social media.

Philosophy for Social Change

.5 credit - Elective open to 11th and 12th grade
Ideologies are complex systems of ideas, values, rules and practices that exert a powerful influence on how we see the world. For better or worse, ideologies form the foundation of our economic, social, and political institutions. If we hope to make social change, it is imperative that we understand the dominant ideologies that exert the most influence. This course will be an examination of three dominant ideologies: Capitalism, Patriarchy, and White Supremacy. We will seek first to understand the origin, geneology, and structure of these ideologies. We will then read critiques of each of them from thinkers whose voices are most often marginalized by these very ideologies. Lastly, we will consider new and alternative ideologies and paradigms currently emerging.

Say What You Mean

.5 credit Elective open to 11th and 12th grade
Do your ideas seem richer, smarter, deeper in your head than they do when you share them? Is it hard to make a persuasive point in conversation, even when your idea is clear in your head? Do you struggle to capture the complexity of your thinking when you write? In this course students will explore and practice rhetorical skills to strengthen the efficacy between thought and language. If you think of yourself as a scientist, artist, mathematician, political activist, or musician, you’ll need to write well to share your insights with the world. This course will make use of all kinds of reading and writing techniques to pursue the simple goal of clarity in writing and speaking. You'll learn how best to harness your creative process and use specific critical lenses to shape and polish your meaning.

Writing for Theater and Film

.5 credit - fall Elective open to 11th and 12th grade
This is a writing course focused on reading and writing plays and screenplays. Through reading and writing dialogue, students will have a greater understanding of how to develop a play or screenplay through studying diverse forms and themes. Students will study the arc of writing by developing characters and a storyline. Students will read and analyze the structure and dialogue of selected plays and screenplays. Students will write weekly and bi-weekly writing exercises in order to explore the range and complexities of writing for the theater and for film. This will involve using a variety of writing prompts and experimenting with a variety of styles. Most of these exercises will be read aloud and shared in class. The goal will be that the student will complete a one-act play or short screenplay by the end of the trimester. Student plays and screenplays will be considered for a formal stage reading or a stage or film production to be shared with the community.


.5 credit Elective open to 11th and 12th grade
In the eternal quest for understanding, humanity has worn many lenses in order to see the world more clearly. In this course’s quest for understanding, students will don the heavy two-way lens of Existentialism, turning us as deeply inward as it does broadly outward. It is a mode of thought that commits us to a greater sense of self, our world, and our place in it. Although it brings, or rather illuminates, a heightened measure of despair, anguish, confusion, and alienation, this modern perspective, even as it seems to imprison us, simultaneously liberates us into a creative expanse of freedom and responsibility. As Jean-Paul Sartre concisely expresses, “man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.” Through a committed exploration of inspired essays, stories, plays, and films, followed by personal creation, we will attempt to make ourselves and resolutely confront the inevitable obstacles along the path of this noble journey. The world may be ours, so what will we do with it?

Literature of the Environment

.5 credit Elective open to 11th 12th grade Throughout history, writers have been the moral voices of their times, lending their words to activist movements. As the climate crisis threatens all life, writers take up the pen to sing songs of our planet, give voice to the non-human life, demand climate justice, and imagine better ways of being. In this class, we will study eco-critical theory and analyze literature of the environment to understand how
writers can use their craft to shape environmental thought, policy, and action. We will then take up our own pens, joining the eco-lit movement by authoring our own climate justice works.


.5 credit
This course will offer students an in-depth look at the drama and poetry of Shakespeare with an emphasis on understanding the texts through read-outs, small group assignments, writing, and scene performances. We will read a range of plays and poetry as we consider Shakespeare’s work in all of its stunning variety: from political thrillers and piercing revenge tales to moving stories of mercy and forgiveness. Students will develop a rich knowledge and comprehension of Shakespeare’s language. We will also probe the deeper social questions raised by his plays. What can his plays teach us about our world today? What can they teach us about our own lives? Why are his plays continually performed live throughout the world in many different forms and venues? No previous experience with Shakespeare or acting is necessary.

Writing About Literature

.5 credit 10th Grade Course Requirement
What can fiction show us that nonfiction cannot? How do stories, novels and poems expand our understanding of who we are? In this course, you will practice close reading of literary texts of all kinds and learn strategies for writing smart, effective essays. You will develop your literary vocabulary and the accuracy and power of your writing, including crafting an arguable and nuanced thesis statement, using evidence effectively, and deepening your understanding of grammar, syntax, and punctuation. We’ll aim to read closely, think deeply, and communicate clearly.

Writing Narrative Nonfiction

.5 credit 10th Grade Course Requirement
Narrative nonfiction can be summed up as true stories, well told. What is the difference between your truth and “the truth”? How do we seek out, explore and express these different truths honestly and accurately? How is writing narrative nonfiction different than creating a pictorial (Instagram, Snapchat) story? In this 10th grade course, we will approach nonfiction writing as a multi-step process that includes prewriting, drafting, and revision. You’ll also read a variety of published essays as inspiration for your own work. Through a series of projects, you will develop your writing voice as well as a personal writing process.

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