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English honors elective classes or survey class?

Madeleine Stevens '17 Danielle Vandenherik '17, Sports and Opinions Editors

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Keep Senior English Honor Electives
Many students are upset now that the decision has been made to cut the senior honors electives next year and replace it with an all around English survey class. Senior Honors english electives were first made as an option so seniors were able to pick their english course semesterly. Each elective has its own designed syllabus for the semester by the teacher- who picked their class out of their own interests. If the english department takes this opportunity away from the rising seniors, they will be missing out on what was a great chance for students to take classes.

One of the in depth courses is Social issues in literature. A class where students are able to discuss and learn about current issues in our society. During the election the class discussed the candidate’s together and learned how to share their ideas and listen to each other’s perspectives- a skill that is not covered in any other class. Infact, every school should have a social issues class. Ms. Venezio, said “the reason why we started the electives was so students could get an idea of what they were interested in before college. The courses are each picked by a specific teacher so it has been something that the teacher is passionate about as well as the students. The students are also allowed to choose which class they want to take which is a change as well.” Another student disappointed in the decision to cut these classes is junior Cece Ihleefe, who was looking forward to taking social issues with Ms. Venezio next year. “I’ve heard so many great things about her social issues class. Students come out of the class excited about what they’re learning. There really isn’t another class like it and I’m so disappointed it’s gone.”

Another class, taught by Ms. O’Brien, is Literature of the Mind. The class analyzes literature physiologically and gives students a chance to study a specific aspect of classic literature. The most unfortunate aspect that we are losing by cutting these classes is that the teachers of each elective are passionate about their topic. Passionate teachers are what the education system needs. When I asked Ms. O’brien how she felt about the courses being cut she said “I am sad that they will no longer be an option for our rising seniors. I thought it was a great opportunity for students to be able to pick their class similarly to how they would in college. I took a class in my high school called psychology in literature and I loved it. I also took another class on it in college.” Olan Trovsky, a senior who took social issues her first semester said “It takes away student’s chance to choose an english class that they feel will better their future out of Bernards High School. I loved social issues because it helped me apply current events to literature and gave me the chance to talk to my peers about controversial subjects. It is so important for students to learn about current issues and learn to develop their own opinions and sense of voice.” The fact is that students are losing a great opportunity to learn about what they love. All the elective courses offered opportunities no other class compares to.
Madeleine Stevens ’17

Survey English Class is better

Currently at Bernards High School, students are capable of selecting which level english course they would like to take each school year. However, senior year, the course selection is not as traditional as other classes. Senior year, if a student wishes to take honors english, they must select english elective classes which last one semester rather than a full year honors english course. However, this option will not be available for the 2017-2018 school year.

Rather than offering students electives, next year students will have to choose their english class based off level, which is what has been traditionally done all three prior years. Freshmen, Sophomore, and Junior year students have been able to choose whether they take A level, Honors, or AP english. If students are accustomed to this method of choosing their classes, repeating this process senior year should not be a problem.

Students typically take honors level classes when they want to challenge themselves. When students are given the AP english class option junior and senior year, many students feel like they do not want to take on the arduous level of work that AP entails. Thus, they feel like honors is the perfect mix of a challenge yet also doable. When not allowing students to take a full year honors course, many students do not like the idea of completely changing a class halfway through the year, and therefore either resort to dropping down a level, or taking AP when they are just not prepared for it.

Senior Curt Gouldin said that “choosing between honors electives can be very overwhelming, especially when you aren’t really sure what the class totally entails or if you’ll be interested in studying one specific realm of English.” By switching to survey english classes, teachers will be able to expand on the material taught in class and really provide students with in depth analysis of all the topics discussed. Teachers have more freedom with what they can teach, and will not feel rushed by the time of the end of the first semester.

Principal Mr. Neigel said that “Scheduling the English IV (H) semester classes is logistically problematic and we could not accommodate the semester electives for the (A) level, so it made more sense to make the English IV(H) classes year long again.” Additionally, he added that “the classes were initially proposed to serve as electives in addition to the required senior English, but very few students have taken additional elective English classes in their schedules.” The semester English classes also have presented problems for seniors in regard to graduation requirements. Mr. Neigel also said that “Seniors who perhaps did not apply themselves in the spring of their senior year found themselves going over in attendance and coming close to failing in terms of grades. It made it difficult to be consistent with the other levels of senior English seeing that they were all year long.”

When seniors go off to college in the fall following their senior year, they will most likely be required to take an intro level writing course in college. By switching teachers halfway through the year, there is a concern that students writing will not improve. Working in a survey course, while exploring various literary genres, better prepares students for their writing and english work in general at the next level. Bernards High School is definitely switching their English program for the better.
Danielle Vandenherik ’17

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English honors elective classes or survey class?