In English, students develop an understanding of themselves and others through reading and writing, while honing their communication skills for success in college and beyond. Four years of English are required for graduation. Honors sections (English IH, IIH, Senior Seminar H) are offered to freshmen, sophomores, and first semester seniors with outstanding verbal abilities as evidenced by past performance and standardized test scores. Advanced placement sections-- English III AP: Literature and Composition and English III AP: Language and Composition--are offered in the junior year to qualified students. Second semester seniors choose one English course from the spring semester’s electives. A number of the senior courses meet the requirements for the Global Scholars Program.

Grades 9-10

English I (and English I Honors)

During the freshmen year, students read novels, plays, and poetry that provide a foundation of world literature and the roots of our literary tradition. Students explore the hero and the hero's journey in these texts. They also develop their analytical writing skills, do extensive vocabulary building, and study punctuation and sentence structure. Meets 4 times a week.

English I Workshop

This course, scheduled with extra class periods each week, is designed for freshmen who need to develop their reading, writing, and study skills to gain the proficiency necessary for success in their next three years of English. The extra periods provide students with additional guided reading and writing opportunities. English I Workshop follows the same curriculum as English I; students will move on to English II the following year. Meets 6 times per week.

English II (and English II Honors)

During the sophomore year, students focus on storytelling by exploring the ways authors reveal their stories and discovering how they can employ the same techniques in their own fiction writing. The guiding premise is that nothing in fiction is an accident. During the first semester, students focus on reading and writing short fiction. They experiment with a variety of styles and techniques while pushing themselves to make every word count. During the second semester, the focus shifts from creating fiction to analyzing novels, plays and poetry. Throughout the year, students work to build vocabulary, master grammar, and refine sentence structure. Meets 4 times per week.

Grade 11

English: Language and Style (First Semester)

In this course, students focus on the creative and controlled uses of language in poetry and prose through the close analysis of excerpts from great writers. Writing assignments are, for the most part, imitative rather than analytical. The aim is to develop more flexibility, precision, and control in writing as well as to acquire an appreciation of the elements of style. Meets 4 times per week.

English: American Masterworks (Second Semester)

Through reading representative works of the best American writing, students gain a richer understanding of the self and society. Students will explore a variety of genres, including novels, short stories, plays, and poems, and continue to work on their critical thinking and analytical writing. Meets 4 times per week. NOTE: With additional outside study, some students who take English 34 and 37 will be prepared to take the Advanced Placement Exam in Language and Composition.

AP English: Literature and Composition

This full-year course is designed for a select group of juniors who have already demonstrated a mature commitment to reading literature as well as a sophisticated mastery of grammar and composition. Through intense study of the elements of fiction, poetry, and drama, these students will prepare for the Advanced Placement Exam in Literature and Composition. They will examine a broad spectrum of readings drawn from American and world literature – from the classics to the avant-garde – and will sharpen their skills of critical evaluation and deepen their appreciation of the persuasive and artistic power of the written word. Meets 4 times per week.

AP English: Language and Composition

This full-year course prepares a select group of juniors for the Advanced Placement Exam in Language and Composition. Students read a variety of fiction and nonfiction to develop their understanding and appreciation of how writers use style, literary devices, and rhetorical strategies to write persuasively. Assignments range from creative imitation and personal essay to literary analysis and argument. Authors studied include Nathaniel Hawthorne, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, Joan Didion, Sherman Alexie, Brent Staples, Barbara Ehrenreich, and David Foster Wallace. Meets 4 times per week.

Grade 12: First Semester

English: Senior Seminar (and Senior Seminar Honors)

Albert Einstein wrote, "Someone who reads only newspapers and books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else." Students will examine some masterpieces of drama, fiction, and poetry, encountering diverse perspectives on humanity's universal experience. They'll build on their skills in writing, critical thinking, and reading comprehension, while enhancing appreciation for the role of great storytelling in mankind's search for meaning. Meets 4 times per week.

English: Advanced Composition

Student writers learn best by writing for real audiences, and students in this course will both write and handle a variety of editing responsibilities for a news magazine serving the entire Thayer community. These students will automatically have a staff position on the publication and will continue to edit the magazine second semester after the course ends. Students will be selected on the basis of their demonstrated writing skill, ability to handle responsibility and the pressures of publication time constraints, and their commitment to excellence in their work. They will need to proofread accurately as well as write creatively, take constructive criticism in stride and offer it with tact, and be ready and willing to work some evenings when production deadlines loom. Meets 4 times per week.

Grade 12: Second Semester

English: Crossing Borders: Journeys and Transformations

Where is our place in the world? How long must we search for it? Is “arrival” the goal or a pit-stop along the way? Is the danger here in what we know, or out there in what we don't? As technology and globalization shrink the world, our challenge more than ever is to nurture "unity in diversity," without sacrificing one for the other. Writers, poets, and filmmakers are well placed to show us: how do we cross the borders of age, gender, class, race, and culture along the way? Examining their own experience in light of others, students will broaden their perspective and deepen their awareness. Meets 4 times per week.

English: Crossing Borders: Global Journeys

Thich Nhat Hanh, the widely respected Buddhist writer and teacher from Vietnam, describes our challenge as human beings this way: "We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness." This section of Crossing Borders will have much in common with the content and objectives of the others, but will offer more of an international, multicultural focus in the readings and films that we study. Meets 4 times per week.

English: Rag and Bone Shop: A Reading and Writing Workshop in Poetry

This course will explore and illuminate the poetic process and the poetic tradition. The writing of poetry in the workshop will emerge from its twin activity: namely, the study of a wide range of schools and forms of poetry. As students begin to appreciate poetry as an alternative, but visceral, form of expression, they will apply this understanding both to their own compositions and to their critiquing of the poetry presented in the workshop. Meets 4 times per week.

English: Scene to Screen

Like literature, film is an artistic medium with its own conventions, aesthetic values, and techniques. Its perspectives on and insight into the human condition are as varied as the films and directors themselves. In this class, we shall examine the techniques used by contemporary directors to manage the complexity of adapting the written word to film and study how this medium explores the depths of our emotions and the motivations for and consequences of our actions. The inclusion of international films and texts will also reveal a perspective that transcends immediate culture and examines those global responsibilities we all share. Meets 4 times per week.

English: Newsworthy

 Does news matter? Should we bother to read it, especially in the age of “fake news”? These are the questions students will wrestle with in this course, and the only logical way to answer them is to delve into the free press. Students will get in the habit of reading and discussing headline news from a variety of sources - right, left and center. They will consider how, as American citizens, they can benefit from becoming savvy news consumers. They will also gain a greater appreciation for the challenges journalists face by crafting their own news stories, editorials, interviews, and feature articles. For a culminating activity, each student will research a current event and showcase a thorough understanding of the chosen topic by producing a short publication featuring several styles of writing. All materials will be accessed online. Meets 4 times per week.

English: Sliver of Truth: The Art of the Short Story

British author Will Self described the short story as "a shard, a sliver, a vignette...a biopsy on the human condition." In this course, we will place short stories under the microscope to discover how and why these brief tales move us so deeply. We'll view adaptations of short stories in film and television, discussing how well (or poorly) they translate off the page. In addition to reading and analyzing masterpieces of the genre, we'll study formal narrative techniques in order to craft original short stories. Students will share their writing in workshop and peer review formats. 

English: Unreal: Literature that Sparks Imagination

Magic, the apocalypse, and time travel seem to dominate the movie theaters, Netflix, and contemporary books. Why have people become so interested in fantasy and magic?  How do these genres depict more “truth” than realistic novels?  What are the artistic and narrative advantages of non-literal representations, and what are the possible social and political implications of these choices? Through this course, we will survey speculative texts and incorporate these creative elements into our own writing. Texts explored include Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale, and George Saunders’ The Tenth of December, as well as shorter pieces by Vonnegut, Garcia Marquez, and Murakami. GSP