Kathleen Dickerson, Department Chair
Recognizing the power of strong written and verbal communication, sophisticated reading, careful listening, and critical thinking, Friends’ Central School requires that students take eight semesters of English. Skills are developed through a curriculum of challenging and diverse texts, both canonical and contemporary. In discussion-based classes, students learn to read carefully, listen with open minds, and speak authentically. Students hone their oral and written expression skills through repeated practice, support, and feedback. To encourage intellectual ambition and the risk-taking that leads to growth, we offer ample opportunities for students to revise and resubmit their work. We know that writing is thinking and that creating a satisfying piece of work requires a committed process of invention, drafting, and revision. When students graduate, they know themselves as writers and thinkers and leave Friends’ Central with personal strategies for the independent writing they will do in college and beyond.
While the grade 9 and 10 courses are yearlong, students in grades 11 and 12 select from a variety of seminar courses in the spring, giving them the opportunity to explore a narrower field of study in depth. The department offers two semester-long writing electives. These courses (Writers' Workshop--Essay and Memoir and Writers' Workshop--Fiction, Poetry, and Drama) are open to students in grades 11 and 12 and offer instruction and practice in persuasive, analytic, and creative writing for interested students in grades 11 and 12. Students are encouraged to participate in related activities such as Ink, the Friends’ Central Literature and Arts Magazine; Focus, the school newspaper; the Humanities Core team; and the Poetry Club. Older students are also invited to serve the community by working as tutors in our student-staffed Writing Lab. The English department sponsors two annual writing contests, one for fiction and nonfiction prose and the other for poetry and plays. The contests are open to all students in the Upper School, and the department publishes a booklet containing prizewinning and honorable mention submissions.
English Spring Seminars
In the second semester, students in grades 11 and 12 select a Semester Seminar. These classes, focused on particular themes or genres, give students a chance to explore an aspect of literature in depth. Semester Seminars include:
- The Modern to Contemporary Black American Experience
- Greatest Hits of US Literature
- Watch What You Read
- Catastrophes of the Near Future: Speculative Fiction
- Game Theory: Sports Literature
- A Fairer House than Prose: Exploring Poetry
- Everything is Dangerous: Western Theatre From the Modern Period to Today
- Tales of Ninth Grade Revisited
- Memoirs by Women
- Everything Change