St. Benedict tells us, “No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.” This is the attitude with which we in the English department approach our students and the curriculum. Our aim is to help the young men under our instruction recognize, analyze, appreciate, and effectively communicate Truth.
Our foundation is a focus on grammar and vocabulary, without which effective communication cannot occur, as well as composition. With that foundation, we introduce a variety of literature, challenging students to analyze with sharp logic the pieces of the human condition reflected in any given work, allowing us to become more profoundly connected to our fellow humans.
The English department provides students with skills that top tier colleges and universities seek. While we saturate our curriculum with analytic and academic writing assignments that require deep critical thinking--skills which allow for great success at the collegiate and professional levels--the real value is far higher. We provide the opportunity for students to deepen their ability to empathize and build meaningful relationships with a wide diversity of people. Moreover, we stretch the imagination’s capacity to grasp what is true, good, and beautiful in this world.
C. S. Lewis’s commentary on Myth can be applied to the endeavors of our department when he says, “the real-life of men is that of mythical and heroic quality. . . . The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores them to the rich significance which has been hidden by ‘the veil of familiarity.’” All of the world, all of reality, is rediscovered, and once we have seen it restored, “We are not quite the same men."
Language Arts 7: concentrates on laying a strong foundation with an understanding of grammar and sentence construction. The writing components of the course focus on paragraph development, incorporating strong topic sentences and details. Short story and poetry units teach the basic building blocks of these genres and lead to a reading of mythology which complements the study of Greek and Roman History.
Language Arts 8: continues to lay a strong foundation with an intensive study of grammar. The writing component will further develop paragraph, essay and creative writing. Literature in the eighth grade will focus on short stories and novels and will incorporate the close reading of passages to improve reading and comprehension skills.
English I: There are two components: Grammar and Composition. Grammar will survey the principles of English Grammar. Students will learn to identify various parts of the sentence, different types of phrases, and the kinds of clauses which make up every type of sentence. This in-depth investigation will equip students with foundational skills and knowledge needed to master the language. The composition will center on learning and developing the techniques involved in composing an academic essay. Consequently, students will be required to write many short papers and four research papers. The first semester will focus on contemporary forms of such essays, and the second semester will investigate how classical forms of rhetoric can refine the skills gained in the first semester.
English II: This will focus on reading, comprehension, and analysis of different literary works including short stories, poetry, drama, and novels suitable for the grade level. Writing activities include learning and executing the development and support necessary to produce a narrative, persuasive, descriptive, and expository essays. A study of comma rules will reinforce grammar terms and good sentence structures learned in previous years. Grammar review will focus on preparing students for ACT and SAT testing. Vocabulary and independent reading skills will be advanced.
Prerequisites: English I
J. R. R. Tolkien: Myths, Critics, and Contexts of The Lord of the Rings: This is an English elective open to juniors and seniors. The course will center on a reading of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Through the semester, the class will move through a variety of topics to deepen their understanding of the series and broaden their perception of the context in which the trilogy was written and received. The topics, each of which is interdependent, will serve as an avenue to explore wider areas of academia such as literary criticism, mythology, poetry, linguistics, and British literature. Each topic will take two weeks to cover. The first of those two weeks will examine Tolkien’s letters or nonfiction, and during the second, students will study scholarly work relating to the subject. While the majority of the work will be reading the novels, students will also write academic expository papers, participate in lectures and discussions, and give presentations.
Oral Communications: This is a one-semester graduation requirement for all high school students. It is recommended to be taken in the sophomore year. Students will learn and put into practice the principles that make human communication effective with an emphasis on public speaking. The first quarter of the course is devoted to the introduction of the principles of communication; the second quarter puts these into practice through the preparation and presentation of speeches.
American Literature Survey: This is the Standard English course taken in the junior year during the first semester. It focuses on the traditions of American Literature and is an analysis of the many voices that help to define American Literature and America. Students will write several response papers to the various works/movements/writers/ studied.
Prerequisites: English I and II
Pre-Advanced Placement English I: This will include all elements of English I, though the components will be covered more rapidly and thoroughly, allowing for more pieces of literature to be reviewed and more of the finer details of grammar to be mastered.
Prerequisites: Approval by the Department and Academic Dean
Pre Advanced Placement English II: This will include all aspects addressed in the Standard English II course except that the units will be covered more rapidly and thoroughly. Students will also read and analyze epic poetry, learn the advanced literary terms necessary for Advanced Placement literary analysis, and focus on the skills necessary to produce well-written essays in a timed situation. A study of comma rules will reinforce grammar terms and good sentence structures learned in previous years. Grammar review will focus on preparing students for ACT and SAT testing. Vocabulary and independent reading skills will be advanced.
Prerequisites: English I and Approval by the English Department and Academic Dean
British Literature Survey: This is the Standard English offering for seniors during the first semester. The course is an introduction to the literary history of the British Isles through the study of the following literary periods: Anglo-Saxon, Medieval, English Renaissance, Age of Reason (Enlightenment), Romantic, Victorian, and the Twentieth Century. Studies will connect literary texts to the history and social structure of each period. The course is designed to develop reading comprehension and critical thinking skills, promote the use of technology, enrich writing skills, and refine research.
Prerequisites: English I, II, and American Literature (or another junior-level English course)
Journalism: This is an English department elective open to students in grades 10-12. The course includes instruction in and practice on various writing skills such as news, features, editorials, columns, review, and sports writing. Students will practice and examine advertising, photography, computer layout, editing and business management of school publications. The student newspaper, the Periscope, and the yearbook, the Pax, serve as laboratories for the practice of the skills taught.
Prerequisite: PAP English I or equivalent
Advanced Placement English Language and Composition: This is a course for students who wish to pursue college-level studies while in high school. It is open to juniors who meet the prerequisite requirements. It is a course in reading non-fiction and in the effective analysis and utilization of both oral and written language. The course allows students to write in a variety of forms—narrative, exploratory, expository, argumentation—and on a variety of subjects from personal experience to public policies, from imaginative literature to popular culture. The course will emphasize the expository, analytical, and argumentative writing that forms the basis of academic and professional communication as well as the personal and reflective writing that fosters the development of facility in any context; its purpose is to enable students to read complex texts with understanding and to write prose of sufficient richness and complexity to communicate effectively with mature audiences (AP English Language and Composition Course Guide). The course alternates with AP English Literature and Composition.
Prerequisites: Approval of the Department and Academic Dean
Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition: This is a course for students who wish to pursue college-level studies while in high school. It is open to seniors who meet the prerequisite requirements. It is a course in the in-depth reading of and writing about texts drawn from multiple genres, periods, and cultures. Students will learn to read deliberately and thoroughly, taking time to understand a work’s complexity, to absorb its richness of meaning, and to analyze how that meaning is embodied in literary form. Students will consider the social and historical values a text reflects and embodies. Students will develop close reading skills that involve the three key elements of experience, interpretation, and evaluation of a literary text. Writing assignments will focus on the critical analysis of literature and will include expository, analytical, and argumentative essays. The goal of writing assignments is to increase students’ abilities to explain clearly, cogently, and elegantly, what they understand about literary works and why they interpret them as they do. Writing about literature involves making judgments about its artistry and exploring its underlying social and cultural values through analysis, interpretation, and argument (AP English Literature and Composition Course Content Guide). The course alternates with AP English Language and Composition.
Prerequisites: Approval of the Department and Academic Dean
Composition I: This is a one-semester concurrent credit course (in partnership with Arkansas Tech University) which is a review of grammar, introduction to research methods, and practice in writing exposition using reading to provide ideas and patterns. A student must achieve a C in the course to earn college credit.
Prerequisites: A minimum score of 19 on ACT reading and English or equivalent SAT; admission to Arkansas Tech University; Approval of the Department and Academic Dean.
Composition II: This is a one-semester concurrent credit course (in partnership with Arkansas Tech University) which is a continuation of Composition I with readings in poetry, drama, and fiction. A “C” in the course earns college credit.
Prerequisites: Composition I, Approval of the Department Chair and Academic Dean.
Southern Literature: This is an elective course taken in the junior or senior year. It focuses on the literature of Southern writers such as Faulkner, O’Connor, Welty, Twain, and others. Students will write several analysis papers. A research project will emphasize note-taking and use of sources within a text to avoid plagiarism.