In all English courses at Holderness, the school’s Core Values
of Community, Character, and Curiosity become habits students practice as they grow into more effective critical and creative readers, writers, speakers, listeners, viewers, and thinkers. At every level, we aim to develop in students an increased self-awareness, a lifelong love of spoken and written language, and a commitment to engaging the world in its complexity and diversity. To find out more about our four-year English curriculum—including our Humanities course, our AP courses, and our senior elective offerings—please read our English curriculum progression
Outside the classroom, students are encouraged to submit their work to Mosaic
, Holderness School’s journal of arts and letters, and to The Picador
, Holderness School’s newspaper. Holderness writers are also encouraged to submit their work to national writing contests open to high school students. Students also participate annually in the national poetry recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud
Our Virtual Bookshelf
Every summer a book is chosen that the whole community—students, faculty, and staff—read. Check out our past All-School Summer Read Winners
, an eclectic list that annually sparks conversations about books and the societies that inspire them.
Click here for more student work photos
English Course Descriptions
In their 9th grade year, students take the year-long "English 9: Humanities" course, which introduces students to literary study through interdisciplinary lenses. The focus is on developing essential and multisensory reading, writing, collaboration, critical thinking, and habits of mind. Students draw connections between their English study and their service learning during their March Experience, Project Outreach.
In their 10th grade year, students take the year-long "English 10: Global Literatures" course, which presents literary study through global social and cultural contexts. Students think deeply and write frequently about questions concerning their own identities in relation to social identifiers such as race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual identity, religious belief, class, and privilege. Writing and other assignments link literary study with artistic expression, connecting the course with their March Artward Bound Experience.
In their 11th and 12th grade years, students have the option of one of our AP offerings (per approval by the department) and semester-long English seminars. English Seminars are semester-long courses that expose students to focused topics in literary and cultural studies. These courses allow for deep dives into specific, advanced topics. AP Literature emphasizes critical reading, writing, and thinking and delves into questions concerning race, class, gender, and sexuality in a variety of complex literary texts. Key texts include Ellison’s Invisible Man, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Morrison’s Beloved. To be considered, students must write in response to an AP Lit question of the Department’s choosing. AP Language and Composition students use mainly non-fiction works as a springboard for honing their skills as readers, writers, and speakers, learning—in a more pointed way—to recognize and use rhetorical strategies that help shape audience response and understanding. To be considered by the Department for this course, students must submit a letter of interest, a recommendation from their English 10 teacher, and take an AP Comp pre-test.