The graduation requirements of University High School include four years of English.
In their freshman and sophomore years, students take a core program that emphasizes reading, writing, and critical thinking. They read a wide variety of literary works and write and revise continually in response.
In their junior and senior years, students take semester-long electives, choosing from a variety of options each term. All the electives offer sustained instruction in analytical writing, and many of them require creative or personal writing, as well. To make the writing process as accessible and as individualized as possible, each major assignment goes through multiple steps of prewriting, writing, and revising, with frequent opportunities for constructive criticism from teachers and peers along the way.
The English Department has chosen the electives model to allow students to pursue topics of particular interest and to go into more depth with each than would otherwise be possible. We also believe, however, that the electives approach allows students to be exposed to a diverse array of texts and to a variety of contexts in which to read them. To encourage students to take advantage of the breadth available to them, we recommend that they think about their choices in light of what they have already taken and what they hope to take. Some courses are organized around a genre, such as poetry, while others take a theme as a guiding principle. Still others focus on the literature of a region or nation. It is our intent that, as juniors and seniors, our students will discover increasingly wider circles of their own interests and that they will be inspired to make connections among these interests.