The English Curriculum at CVA is designed to provide students with fundamental skills in the language arts that will enable them to move fluently into post-secondary education. The department emphasizes a core curriculum of reading, writing and critical thinking with collateral emphasis on the development of vocabulary, grammar and research skills. While the importance of large group discussions is recognized, the small class sizes promote significant, individualized learning opportunities. From 7th Grade through Senior spring, writing is taught in large part, through one-on-one conferences with teachers. In addition to developing strong, healthy writing skills, the primary hope as a department is that the students will move-on as intellectual risk-takers who understand and appreciate the importance of analytical and original thinking. Each english course is supported by the use of technology and thoughtfully designed travel assignments that allow students to meet course objectives without the benefit of in-class instruction when they are away from the classroom for athletic contests and training.
Middle School Humanities is a cross-curricular, English/Social Studies/History course designed to foster interdisciplinary thinking among high-school bound students. Over the course of the year, various 19th and 20th Century conflicts, events and movements are studied through a collection of classic and contemporary literary works including; To Kill a Mockingbird, Captains Courageous, Night and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. In large part, the central focus is on cultivating productive and healthy study habits among high school bound students. To accommodate students who attend CVA for both seventh and eighth grade, the Middle School Humanities curriculum functions on a two-year-rotating basis. As such, the reading list is essentially overhauled every year to include other such texts as; The Diary of Anne Frank, Unbroken and Killer Angels. Given its place in the cannon, To Kill a Mockingbird is read every year. This is the sort of novel that ought to be read by all Americans on annual basis.
9th Grade English is a writing-based, fundamentals course designed to equip first-year high school students with the foundational writing, speaking and analysis skills that they will require to move-on as effective communicators is school and in life. A significant portion of the 9th Grade English curriculum is directly tied to their historical study of World Cultures. In addition to several 9th Grade classics, including The Lord of the Flies and A Separate Peace, students are exposed to a broad range of literary works with origins in Ancient Greece, Rome, Mesopotamia and the Middle East.
10th Grade English is a writing-intensive course designed to cultivate thoughtful literary critics and effective writers. As 10thGraders, students are expected to build-upon their knowledge of process and structure to create not only organized, but also compelling and thought-provoking arguments. A significant portion of the 10th Grade English curriculum is directly tied to their historical study of Western Civilizations. While students are exposed to several 10th Grade classics, including Catcher in the Rye and Macbeth, the bulk of the 10th Grade's reading focuses on the triumphs and tragedies of democracy, colonization and revolution.
11th Grade English is the study of American Literature from the American Renaissance through Postmodernism. Students gain experience writing various types of essays, understanding literary elements and their application to literature, and learning effective research techniques. Further, students prepare for standardized tests by studying vocabulary and grammar.
12th Grade English explores various themes in literature. Topics may include (but are not limited to): Dystopias vs Utopias, Contemporary American Literature, Introduction to Literary Theory, The Romantic Period, The Literature of Sport, Maine Writers, and Nature Writers. Through reading fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, students write and revise literary analyses, comparative and critical essays, and personal narratives.