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The Write To Choose

Students approve of the new array of English electives

One hundred percent of students surveyed answered “yes” when asked whether they were happy with the new English electives. As many of you know, this year, the 11th and 12th grades were presented with  a choice from a large array of interesting electives instead of one standardized English class.

English teacher Jeffrey Gans believes that the change will be good for the whole community.

“The overwhelming response from our end is that we enjoy teaching the classes more and it seems like the students enjoy taking the classes more. We’ve received nothing but positive feedback from our students and honestly, their performance is better. They’re writing better and they seem more interested,” Gans said.

The new curriculum encompasses a wide enough range of options to allow even students who don’t usually excel in English to do so by finding a topic that really interests them.

Or, in other cases, it can provide an opportunity for students to step out of their usual comfort zone and try something new. Junior Nikhil Deo was able to narrow down his choices by deciding which class would be more helpful in preparation for college applications and standardized tests.

“[By taking Critical Reading and Writing], I had an opportunity to improve on a skill that I don’t think I’m strong at,” Deo said.

Following the lines of Deo taking a class that might not be his top choice, many juniors and seniors couldn’t take the class they wanted most. Senior Merone Hadush for example, ended up in Literature of the Apocalypse, without actually knowing what that class entailed.

“Even though I didn’t initially want to be in the class I’m in, I’m really happy I’m taking it. I would have never been able to read these books if we had a normal senior English class,” Hadush said.

Not only do the electives pique interest in students, but they interest teachers as well.

“[They] give the opportunity for teachers to really draw on something they’re passionate about and know more about,” English teacher Christina Serkowski said.

Along with students not necessarily getting their top choice, another issue noted by students was ensuring that each class asks for the same level of commitment from the students.

“I wish the English electives were more cohesive about the amount of work they each give out,” Senior Jing Redman said.

The English department is aware of this possible disparity and holds meetings to discuss ways to avoid this.

“We are hoping the five to seven page paper can be an anchor” Serkowski said, when referring to the English Department’s decision to require each student, no matter what English elective, to complete a longer piece of work.  

Although creating a shared set of requirements for all of the classes is a good idea, the problem with this is that a long paper doesn’t fit well into the curriculum of each of the topics.

“[In Critical Reading and Writing,] it was very bizarre to make a mentality switch towards a longer paper because that’s just not what we focused on,” Deo said.

On top of all the little problems being worked out, the biggest downside of the English electives by far is that the graduating class can only take two of these captivating courses.

Hadush said, “I just wish they started earlier so that I could take more than a year’s worth.”

By Leah Bell

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