The English Department designs its curriculum around a core principle of Jesuit education: “to help each student to become an independent learner [and] to assume the responsibility for his or her own education.”*  Our vertically-aligned instruction— motivated by the Ignatian principle of showing students “how to continue to learn after formal education has ended” —provides all of our students guided instruction in reading and writing techniques that develop mastery and thus serve as the foundation for lifelong learning.

A typical graduate will have produced over twenty major essays; internalized strategies for written unity, coherence, and syntax; studied English grammar for enrichment of his writing style, incorporated increasingly sophisticated English vocabulary; and read and analyzed challenging classical texts of all forms—poetry, drama, the epic, the novel, the essay.  He will have experienced how the classics tell stories of the salient moral struggles of civilization—narratives where both men and women are heroes and heroines, victims and victimizers, judges and the judged; where various creatures function figuratively; where the enslaved provide moral guidance; where class distinctions are grappled with; where young men and women become entrapped by the world’s temptations; where leaders can abuse their power or wield it beneficially; where evil clearly exists and good must confront it; where mentors guide the young toward redemption and forgiveness.  

These experiences in a dynamic English classroom and the consequent development of skills uniquely shape a young man who grows to understand “that full growth of a person... leads to action, action, especially, that is suffused with the spirit and presence of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Man-for-Others.”*

Dr. Michael Degen

Dr. Michael Degen

Teacher, Department Head
Mrs. Mary Beth Farrell

Mrs. Mary Beth Farrell


*Melrose, Carl E., S.J.  Foundations. Washington, DC: Jesuit Secondary Education Association, 1994.


Students will be provided with a digital copy of Crafting Expository Argument. Students are responsible for obtaining all other English books. All student purchased texts are to be physical, print copies. Additional class materials will be provided by the school.

Please read notes carefully. Only physical books are acceptable. DO NOT PURCHASE EBOOKS FOR ENGLISH TEXTS. Covers may vary for some novels with the same ISBN. For some courses instructor’s names are listed next to the course name, if you do not see your teacher’s name obtain the books for Staff.

English [200]

Four credits of English are required for graduation.

Honors and AP Courses at Jesuit

Upperclassmen requesting Honors or AP English courses must qualify according to the following criteria as established by the English Department:

To be considered as a potential candidate for Honors or AP English, each student must have achieved, in both semesters an average of 80 in his present Honors or AP English class or an average of 93 in his present regular English class. Students not meeting these criteria may be placed in Honors or AP English based on extenuating circumstances as presented by the instructor in consultation with the Department Chair and Assistant Principal of Student Academics.

Recommendation of previous English teachers will be considered.

Each student wishing to move from a regular English class to a Honors or AP class will be required to sit for a writing examination. The department will announce the times for these exams; a team of English instructors will evaluate these exams.

Students not maintaining an average above 80 in a Honors or AP English class may be transferred to a regular section at the end of the first semester.

An application process is required for admission into Honors English Seminar. See the instructor for this course or your guidance counselor for an application, including deadlines.

ENGLISH 1 [212]

Credit: 1.00

Prerequisites: Freshman status.

Description: This is a foundation-building course. There are three main areas of study: grammar, literature, and composition. There is a comprehensive review of grammar on the freshman level. Students are quizzed over grammatical rules and are asked to apply usage rules to their writing. Students read many works of literature, covering all the genres. Students read short stories, several novels, essays, plays, and poems. Sentence structure and paragraph development are the primary focus of the students’ writing. Besides writing different types of paragraphs, students write essays and critical papers over what they read. Creative writing is also covered through journals and poetry.


Credit: 1.00

Prerequisites: Freshmen students will be ranked in order of their scores on the Verbal Aptitude and Reading Comprehension portions of the entrance examination. Additionally, the department will evaluate the writing samples from the entrance examination. Class size may limit availability.

Description: This is a foundation-building course. The course is also reading and writing intensive. There is a review of grammar rules and usage problems. Students are asked to apply what they learn in the grammar review to their own writing. They read short stories, essays, novels, plays, and poetry. From classic works of literature to contemporary novels, all the genres are covered over the course of the school year. Students are asked to discuss the literature and to write and revise critical essays over the works read. Students write different types of paragraphs, essays, critical papers, and poems.

ENGLISH 2 [224]

Credit: 1.00

Prerequisites: Sophomore status.
Description: Sophomore English presents a survey of American Literature from its roots to the second half of the 20th century. The course is designed to help the student read more deeply and richly, with greater insight and understanding, see connections between works, draw appropriate conclusions, strengthen critical thinking skills, formulate and support a thesis, and gain an understanding of what constitutes the American experience.


Credit: 1.00

Prerequisites: Sophomore status. Qualification based on the Departmental criteria.

Description: In addition to the material covered in English 2, Pre-AP English 2 continues the work begun in Pre-AP English 1. Close reading and writing assignments are more rigorous and students concentrate on American literary themes.


Credit: 1.00

Prerequisites: Junior status. Qualification based on the Departmental criteria.

Description: This course follows the theoretical structure of English 3. Supplemental readings include established literary classics, which provide students an opportunity to read texts closely, examining how diction, imagery, details, language, and sentence structure affect meaning and tone. Students work throughout the year mastering these skills of literary argument both in oral form and in written form. Written work primarily includes demonstrating mastery of the literary argument, positing a sophisticated thesis for one thousand to two thousand word essays. By May, the student should be prepared to succeed on the AP Literature & Composition exam. This course will include a summer reading/writing assignment.

ENGLISH 3 [236]

Credit: 1.00

Prerequisites: Junior status.

Description: Junior English explores the major literary works and periods of British literature: Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare, Romantic Age, and Victorian Age. Supplementary texts are often assigned, for example, Great Expectations, Lord of the Flies, The Tempest, The Power of One, and Frankenstein. Class discussion encourages students to identify the larger patterns of epic, tragedy, comedy, and lyric. In addition, students concurrently develop analytical writing skills, primarily positing a literary thesis and defending it in an organized essay with well-elaborated, coherent paragraphs. Writing topics are literary and at times incorporate secondary research material. Moreover, the study of grammar is used as a means to improve and comment on writing style and sentence structure, exploring a more sophisticated understanding and use of language.


Credit: 1.00

Prerequisites: Senior status. Qualification based on the Departmental criteria.

Description: This course prepares students to take the College Board’s AP Language and Composition exam.

The course content examines the rhetorical strategies used to communicate some of the central philosophical ideas of Western culture; we will explore this thinking primarily through the reading of the nonfiction essay, but also investigate some forms of fiction—drama, short story, and poetry.

Writing assignments focus on the close reading of texts and communicating how those texts produce ideas.

Course Objectives:

• To heighten the student’s awareness of how the most sophisticated syntax of the English language work so that they can incorporate these patterns into their own prose;

• To advance the student’s knowledge of sophisticated English vocabulary;

• To expose the persuasive techniques of the most effective essayists and orators so that the student can recognize how individuals shape ideas and influence others and Western culture;

• To refine writing skills that can aptly communicate the ideas of others and to provide persuasive critiques of their concepts.

This class meets M, T, Th and an occasional Friday.


Credit: 1.00

Prerequisites: Senior status. An application is required for admission into Honors English Seminar. See the Seminar instructor or your guidance counselor for an application. Note deadlines. Qualification based on Departmental criteria. The Seminar student must be available for attending a few lectures, presentations and performances outside of class time.

Description: The Honors Senior English Seminar is concerned with creative growth and is based on the assumption that the act of thinking and creating makes living enjoyable and worthwhile. The Seminar encourages the student to recognize his individual viewpoint and to value the process of his own intellectual growth. The teacher serves as a guide and resource for those engaged in discussing and grappling with the complex issues of their culture in a spirit of collaboration. The course is concerned with examining significant works of contemporary literature and other art forms. In addition, the student presents a Seminar Project at the end of the year, one that has engaged his interest and concentration for several months.

This class meets three days a week.


Credit: 0.50

Prerequisites: Senior status.

Description: Senior English combines the study of rhetoric and literature. Students read and write essays to master various structural forms and methods of argumentation. Students are exposed to a variety of rhetorical methods of composition and are taught the distinct difference between composition and revision. Literary analysis includes both classical and contemporary works. The specific purpose of Senior English is to prepare students to succeed in English 101 and 102 at the university level and we employ college level textbooks and materials.

Students must select one of the options below for second semester.

This class meets four days a week.

Senior English Options (Choose 1)


Credit: 0.50

Prerequisites: English 4 [248]

Review of various genres exploring literary contributions in the United States after 1945.

This class meets four days a week.


Credit: 0.50

Prerequisites: English 4 [248]

Study of historically significant literature emerging out of the southwest region of the United States.

This class meets four days a week.

Credit: 0.50
Prerequisites: English 4 [248]
Study of culturally or historically significant literature such as memoir and autobiography, essay, history, biography, speeches.
This class meets four days a week.


Credit: 0.50

Prerequisites: English 4 [248]

Contemporary pieces from regions such as Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

This class meets four days a week.