High School English Courses

The English program at Saint Thomas Academy provides students with the opportunity to develop increasing mastery of skills in reading, writing, speaking, focusing on student-centered approaches. Grade nine emphasizes language skills necessary for successful study at the Academy while courses in grades ten through twelve increasingly prepare students for successful study at the college level. The department believes that individuals who understand and can use language effectively will enjoy more fulfilling lives.
The English Department gives all students the tools to:

  • Read with understanding and critical insight.
  • Express ideas clearly in a variety of written forms.
  • Develop skills necessary for effective oral communication.
  • Analyze and evaluate the significance of ideas.
  • Conduct and present scholarly research.
  • Hone critical thinking skills.

RHETORICAL SKILLS - Grade Level: 9    Weight: 1.0
This course works to establish competency with the necessary English skills that enable students to succeed in a rigorous, college-preparatory program. Students read literature from diverse perspectives and settings and develop abilities related to reading comprehension and appreciation, as well as literary analysis and critical thinking. Classical Greek and Latin roots are learned and practiced to help students develop a strong working vocabulary. Students write a variety of types of essays with a focus on thesis construction and support,  organization of paragraphs and ideas, and proper use of language. Effective speaking skills are practiced through a variety of individual and group formats.  Research techniques are introduced and developed through the completion of a large project.

LITERATURE & COMPOSITION - Grade Level: 10    Weight: 1.0
The literature program integrates and builds critical thinking and reading skills by asking students to analyze the styles and techniques of
different literary genres, including short stories, drama, poetry, and novels. Writing assignments are done in conjunction with the literature assignments. Students write expository and creative pieces as well as a research paper and multimedia projects that uses their library skills.

AMERICAN LITERATURE & COMPOSITION - Grade Level: 11    Weight: 1.0
This course offers a survey of American literature that is organized within dominant themes. Major authors, significant literary movements, and multicultural perspectives are highlighted. Composition and speech are integrated with the reading program, and students do a variety of writing, from informal reading responses to one formal research paper as well as creative writing. Writing focuses include proofreading for grammatical and mechanical perfection, development of ideas, and revision techniques. Students will need to complete a formal research paper to pass the class.

AMERICAN STUDIES: ENGLISH - Grade Level: 11    Weight: 1.0
Prerequisite: Ability and desire to work independently and with a group to succeed in an interdisciplinary class.  Satisfies: English 11.
Students must also register for American Studies History.
This survey of American literature draws mainly from works written since 1885 and parallels the American History part of the course, thereby establishing historical context (e.g. Prohibition) for the work being studied (e.g., The Great Gatsby).  As in other junior English courses, major writers, significant literary movements, and multicultural perspectives are highlighted. Composition and speech are integrated within the reading program. Student writing ranges from informal journal writing to literary analysis to research projects. Discussion, individual and small group presentations, tests, and both creative and analytical work provide a means for student expression and proof of mastery of the material covered.

CRITICAL READING & WRITING HONORS - Grade Level: 11    Weight: 1.1
Prerequisite: A grade of B+ or better in Literature and Composition with the Grade 10 instructor's approval.
This course is designed as preparation for AP English with emphasis on reading and writing with critical awareness. Both American and world writers and a survey of texts are included. Specific analyses include textual interpretations of varied genres. Assignments center on analytical papers, including a research paper, a personal essay, and a variety of oral presentations. Focuses on writing improvement include proofreading for grammatical and mechanical perfection, development of ideas, and revision techniques. To register for Honors English, students need instructor’s approval.

WORLD LITERATURE & COMPOSITION - Grade Level: 12    Weight: 1.0
Course material consists of important literary works selected from various cultures. In-depth study of one major work per quarter refines the student’s ability to analyze a text closely.  Traditional writing assignments on topics in literary analysis focus on developing the student’s writing skills.  Students write a research paper as a major portion of their grade to bring their research and writing skills to the college level.
The senior speech requirement is fulfilled as part of the course objective.

ENGLISH AP - Grade Level: 12    Weight: 1.2
Prerequisite: Honors Critical Reading & Writing and instructor's approval.
AP English is intended to prepare seniors for the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition Exam. Students may receive college credit or placement in advanced levels of college English. The primary emphasis in AP English is to provide students with the rigorous academic experiences of a college English course. Students read and discuss novels, poems, plays, and philosophical essays in order to hone their literary insight and develop higher-level writing skills. Formal papers prepare students for college writing; timed essays and multiple-choice tests provide them with extensive exposure to the types of questions encountered on the AP Exam. Students will have extensive outside reading and are expected to be able to comprehend difficult texts on their own.  It is not unusual for AP English students to read 30 to 40 pages of a novel in one night, and sometimes entire novels are assigned for reading outside of class by a certain date. In addition, students will write frequently, with a long formal paper, several in-class essays, and a number of short pieces each quarter. Daily preparation for class and participation in class discussion is also required. All AP students are expected to take the AP exam. Weight changes to 1.1 if student does not take the AP exam.

English Electives

CREATIVE WRITING - Grade Level: 11-12    Weight: 1.0
Prerequisite: Strong interest and ability in writing.
This elective course is open to juniors and seniors interested in varied types of writing. The class is conducted as a writer’s workshop wherein students share their writings and work towards a polished portfolio of their best work. Students actively write for the purposes of creating finished works including, but not limited to, poetry, short stories, essays, memoirs, and drama. Students study models of good writing and varied literary selections.  Course can be offered as independent study.

BUILDING THE KAYDET - Grade Level: 10-12    Weight: 1.0
Prerequisite:  Rhetorical Skills, Digital Photography I or Rhetorical Skills and permission from instructor.
This course offers students a unique perspective on the world of publishing and sales. Using online software, students will build The Kaydet yearbook from the first page to the last. In addition to developing design and editing skills, students will keep track of sales and market their product to the school as a whole.  Students should also have an interest in photography and have some knowledge of photo editing.