Montgomery Ogden, Department Chair

The goal of the Friends’ Central English program is to help students build skills and confidence as readers, writers, speakers, and thinkers. Students are equally challenged and supported in their path through our curriculum. 9th and 10th graders enroll in required year-long English courses, while 11th and 12th graders take a required semester-long course in the fall and choose from a variety of seminar courses in the spring. The curriculum includes both canonical and contemporary texts; with feedback from students, the department curates a curriculum in which students can find both mirrors and windows, recognizing their own experiences and learning about people different from themselves.  Our courses are discussion-based and collaborative, pushing students to take active roles in their own learning, and assignments are designed to deepen critical thinking abilities, hone analytic skills, and improve written and verbal communication of all kinds in a diverse and respectful setting.  Students write often and in a range of forms, including journals, creative pieces, personal responses (the 10th grade curriculum includes a unit on the personal essay), and analytic pieces, with particular attention to the full-length thesis-driven essay.  As good writing is an iterative process, we teach skills in invention, development, drafting, and revision, and we encourage students to revise and resubmit their work.  These revisions allow students to develop both their writing and social-emotional skills related to agency, decision-making, responding to feedback, and pride in their work.  We hope students will take advantage of the chance to serve as writing tutors in our Writing Lab and we encourage them to read for pleasure and to participate in INK (the Friends’ Central literary and arts magazine), Focus (Friends’ Central’s newspaper), and academic opportunities like the Humanities Core Team and certain senior project seminars. (see an example of a senior project seminar here).

English Elective

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. All seminars begin with shared study of a text selected by the English department as a whole; in 2023, that text will be Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Semester Seminars for Spring 2023 include: