The Upper School English Department encourages students to read as writers and write as readers so that they come to recognize and appreciate both the art and the craft of verbal expression. Through careful, active reading and the respectful exchange of ideas in discussion our students come to understand rich texts, recognizing the intentional choices writers make--from diction and syntax to patterns of allusion and figurative language--and appreciating how those choices create meaning. Influential literary works that span eras, genres, and cultures provide opportunities for a broad investigation of the human experience and the vast world of ideas. We want our students to become lifelong readers, who reach for a book both for pleasure and for their own edification, and so we encourage them to maintain a robust independent reading life beyond the classroom.
The Upper School English curriculum is designed to grow student proficiency and confidence in written expression. Students write frequently, both informally and formally, and practice all stages of the writing process, from pre-writing to drafting through to revision and publication. They learn to make intentional choices around precise diction and meaningful sentence variety in their own writing in order to express their ideas fluidly and effectively to a chosen audience. They become comfortable writing in various nonfiction modes (narrative, persuasive, descriptive, analytical, reflective), learning how to suit voice and formality to occasion; they also try their hands at writing fiction and poetry, thereby broadening the array of expressive options available to them as well as deepening their appreciation of the craft of writing. Students in every year undertake the systematic study of vocabulary and grammar as a key components in the growth of effective writing skills.