In English classes the student learns to think clearly, read carefully, and write logically. To foster these abilities, the English Department offers a progressive, developmental course of study which strives in the freshman and sophomore years to promote grammatical literacy, vocabulary development, proficiency in sentence and paragraph construction, and a basic, yet firm, understanding of literary elements and figurative language. With this foundation, the student may then, in the senior year, pursue fruitfully both the acquisition of advanced composition skills and more in-depth investigations of various literary genres. Preparation for the College Board's Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is built into all levels of the English curriculum.
Select a course below for a detailed description...
English 1 concentrates on the refinement of fundamental grammar, vocabulary, and reading skills to give the student a substantial background for any course that requires that he read and write competently. Short but frequent writings of paragraphs and essays emphasize proper sentence construction for the expression of clear, precise thought. The course also seeks to engender an enjoyment of literature through the reading of short stories, poems, plays, and novels. Literary works featured have been The Odyssey, Macbeth, and Fahrenheit 451.
English 1 Honors
English 1 Honors challenges its first year students to develop their vocabulary,critical thinking and reading skills, as well as writing clarity and concision. Writing will begin at the sentence and paragraph level but will move quickly towards passage analysis and essay length writing. The course seeks to engender a love of literature as well as to challenge the students as they read a variety of genre-based texts from short stories, poetry, plays, and novels. Catcher in the Rye, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Odyssey, and Fahrenheit 451 have been used as foundational texts in this course.
English 2 continues to emphasize grammar and compositional skills but at a more advanced level. Frequent and varied writing assignments refine the students’ facility with essay construction. Among the writing assignments featured in this course are personal narratives, descriptive essays, persuasive essays, essays of literary analysis, and creative responses to course readings. The course introduces some of the main themes of literature by reading from all genres. Works featured in the course have been Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Oedipus Rex, The Burial at Thebes, Julius Caesar, The Stranger, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and 1984. Passages from the Bible and a selection of canonical and contemporary short stories and poetry have also been included in this course.
English 2 Honors
English 2 Honors continues the grammar foundation work begun by English 1 while expanding the students' understanding of literature through exploration of stories and storytelling through works as diverse as the Bible, The Burial at Thebes, Henry the Fourth, Part One, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. While writing assignments will focus on developing essays of literary analysis, the course also offers opportunities for creative responses to literature.
English 3 students read a broad selection of American literature; major authors and thinkers such as Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau have been featured in the course. Moreover, students study selections from the American literary canon, including but not limited to works such as The Crucible, The Great Gatsby, Inherit the Wind, and Death of a Salesman, as well as a wide selection of essays and poetry, particularly the poems of Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, and Hughes. A variety of writing assignments are used to engage the course readings and to encourage students to think critically and creatively about the themes and voices of American literature. Preparation for the College Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is pursued through vocabulary building, critical reading exercises, and study of grammar and usage.
English 3 Honors
English 3 Honors students read broadly and deeply from the American literary canon, engage in deep, imaginative critical thinking, and hold themselves to the highest standards of clear, thoughtful prose. Readings encompass writings from the Pilgrims, the Puritans, the Colonials, the 19th century’s Romantics, and the 20th century’s Modernists. The longer works for consideration and study include Thoreau’s Walden, Whitman’s Song of Myself, Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, James’ Daisy Miller, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and Pynchon’s Crying of Lot 49. Writing assignments range in scope from short “response”-type essays to longer, more developed critical studies of text. A strong command of basic grammar and writing mechanics is a minimal expectation for success in the course, during which the students refine their writing styles and develop their diction, which are not only essential to producing clear, precise prose but are also key to preparing for College Board examinations.
Students explore the Avon Old Farms core values (Sportsmanship, Scholarship, Altruism, Self-Discipline, Integrity, Civility, Tolerance, and Responsibility) in reading, discussing, and writing about major literary works from all genres; although reading selections may change from year to year, some fundamental texts have been Hamlet, Heart of Darkness and Raisin in the Sun. Writing assignments include personal essays, literary analyses, and creative exercises and will emphasize the writing process, which includes active reading and note-taking, drafting, and revising. Students also strengthen fundamental language skills through the study of grammar and vocabulary with a focus on SAT preparation.
English 4 Honors
English 4 Honors students examine the Avon Old Farms Core Values as the values manifest themselves as themes in literature and the students’ own lives. Class discussion and written expression with an emphasis on creative, independent thought are fundamental to the course. The course begins with a study of personal narrative as students read from a selection of anthologized essays and short fiction; as the course progresses, students will read longer works and, accordingly, will be expected to write longer critical analyses of formal elements and theme. Works studied in the course have been Hamlet, Raisin in the Sun, Heart of Darkness, The Things They Carried and The Natural, as well as a generous selection of canonical and contemporary poetry.
Advanced Placement Literature and Composition
This course prepares select senior students for the Advanced Placement Literature and Composition Examination in May by modeling what might be expected of them in an introductory-level English course at a college or university. Students read an array of literature from William Shakespeare’s tragedies to Tim O’Brien’s short stories and participate in seminar-style discussions. While students focus on writing essays to analyze the formal elements and themes of literature read in class, they also try their hand at short story and poetry writing as a means of further developing their understanding of how the formal elements may be used to create meaning in a literary work.
This course seeks to provide students with the philosophical tools needed to analyze a wide variety of ethical issues. Students are introduced to the development of a personal worldview, requiring each student to address such questions as intuitions about God, the purpose of human life, and the imperative to act morally. The course goes on to the realm of applied ethics, examining issues such as lying, sexual morality, pornography, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, affirmative action, animal rights, environmental ethics, and globalization. Students use position papers to explain and justify intuitions on these issues in a systematic way. Emphasis is placed on identifying logical fallacies in the construction of sound and valid arguments.
This is an introductory course in public speaking that assumes no previous experience. Students are instructed in the basic principles of effective and ethical public speaking and are given opportunities to practice and apply those principles in a workshop environment where students will critique one another's work, and develop their skills. Using an extemporaneous speaking style, students make a series of speeches in four different categories: the self-introductory speech, the informative speech, the persuasive speech, and the celebratory speech. In addition, students make frequent impromptu presentations and learn how to introduce a speaker, make a toast, present an award, and accept an award. Students will also analyze the speeches of a variety of speakers including Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, Conan O'Brien, and Steve Jobs.
Studies in Contemporary American Literature
By continuing the consideration of themes related to the construction and representation of American identity in literature since 1950, this full-year course is designed for those students who have completed a standard survey course in American literature. Course readings will be comprised of a variety of authors and genres and will focus on themes related to gender, race, and class. Primary texts may include On the Road; Raisin in the Sun; Bright Lights, Big City; and The Road, as well as short stories by John Cheever, Raymond Carver, and Lorrie Moore, among others, and a generous selection of poems. Students will respond to course readings by writing critically and creatively; writing instruction will emphasize the continued development of correct and convincing prose with attention given to improving vocabulary and to strengthening command of standard English grammar.
Public Discourse in Film
This semester course takes a formalist approach to the subject of film and film-making. The semester is divided into three major units: Shot composition, montage and editing, and story structure. The class work consists of discussion and close examination of a series of ground-breaking films. These films have been chosen because of their quality, but also because they each contribute to the public discourse of social issues. This course examines how film makers use the language of film to comment on the issues of their day. Students will fulfill a variety of assignments. They will write a series of papers analyzing individual elements of film, leading up to a complete shot analysis in which students will pick apart and analyze all the elements of a particular scene. Students will also be called upon to produce a creative work. Students will choose either to write a short script or shoot and edit a short film. Readings will come from a variety of sources, and will deal directly with each film.