Academics
A Notre Dame Education

English

Philosophy

The English Department of Notre Dame High School, in accordance with the Holy Cross educational philosophy that seeks the formation of the whole person, has established a curriculum that produces graduates who are critical and considerate thinkers, speakers, and writers. Grounded in the NDHS Integral Student Outcomes of Educating the Heart and Mind, the English program emphasizes the development of oral and written comprehension, critical thinking skills, and coherence, cogency, and fluency in the expression and communication of ideas as well as provides experiences and activities that will help students become discriminating users of print and non-print media. The English curriculum encourages the intellectual and empathetic development of each student through varied writing tasks, articulate speech, thoughtful decision-making, intellectual risk-taking, and compassionate understanding. Literary, informational, and media texts, selected for excellence in both content and style, promote Catholic social teaching, aesthetic appreciation, multicultural and historical awareness, and analytical evaluation skills. 

Courses Offered

List of 13 items.

  • English I

    In this course, students will be introduced to the reading and writing skills they will need in English as well as in their other courses at Notre Dame. English I focuses on an introduction to the writing process, culminating in a five-paragraph essay. Students will also receive instruction in grammar, vocabulary, library skills, and an introduction to literature, including an overview of its elements and genres. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Students will be placed in English I based on their results on the entrance exam and their middle school grades and recommendations. (UC “b” English) 
  • Honors English I

    In addition to the basic English I curriculum, this course will emphasize the theory and practice of expository composition. Students will also be asked to carry the study of literature beyond the content-based approach of English I (college prep sections). Students in this course will read one major work of drama, fiction, or non-fiction in each six-week grading period. To supplement the existing two-semester reading list, students accepted in the course will be required to read a selected group of works during the summer preceding the fall semester. The pace of this course will be accelerated. As an English foundation class, Honors English I does not meet the UC Honors certification. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Students must be approved by the school to be eligible to take Honors English I. Approval is based on the National Percentile scores earned on the entrance exam (Verbal, Reading, Language) and the student’s middle school grades and recommendations. (UC “b” English) 
  • English II

    In this course, students will review and develop the skills taught in English I. The steps in the writing process will be reinforced with various compositional forms. Students also engage in a content-based approach to multicultural literature, gradually adding analysis of the elements of style as well as an introduction to rhetoric in their reading. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - The student must have passed English I. (UC “b” English)
  • Honors English II

    This course extends skills taught in the 9th grade. Students write at least three major essays per semester, moving from literary analysis to rhetorical analysis and argument. Although reading assignments will not focus on one specific type of literature, students will be exposed to several different literary periods and all four literary genres. In addition to the required summer reading, students read three major works of literature each semester. Students also study the conventions of grammar and will continue to build their literary vocabulary. As an English foundation class, Honors English II does not meet UC Honors certification.

    Prerequisites/Comments - See admission to honors and AP courses in English. It is further recommended that students seeking entrance into this course strongly consider the number of honors or AP classes they are taking. (UC “b” English) 
  • English III

    In this course, students continue to study the writing process, with goals to include evidence-based arguments and detailed literary analyses. The English III course includes a chronological survey of American literature from Native Americans to the present. Students also prepare for the verbal and writing sections of the SAT through the study of vocabulary, critical reading skills, and timed writing exercises. Four works by major American authors are read over throughout the year. During the spring semester, students are required to demonstrate their ability to synthesize research on a given topic.

    Prerequisites/Comments - The student must have passed English II. (UC “b” English) 
  • AP English Language and Composition

    This course focuses on a study of rhetoric, the ways writers manipulate language to achieve a purpose. Students will identify and analyze other writers’ uses of rhetorical strategies as well as employ their own in a variety of expository modes. The course incorporates a survey of American literature, both fiction and nonfiction, including an anthology of essays. To supplement the existing two-semester reading list, students accepted in the course will be required to read a selected group of works during the summer preceding the fall semester. All students are required to take the Advanced Placement English Language and Composition exam. A fee that covers the cost of this test will be charged to each student. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - See admission to honors and AP courses in English. (UC “b” English-UC AP/Honors)
  • English IV

    Students study literature taken from the British canon, concentrating on the historical movement of literature from Beowulf through contemporary classics. The course concentrates on practicing and producing the types of written work required in college courses, including analytical essays, research papers, and timed writings. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - The student must have passed English III. (UC “b” English) 
  • AP English Literature and Composition

    Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition is an idea-intensive, participatory course designed to acquaint students with major literary movements through the reading and exposition of classical and modern texts. Students will be expected to develop a writing voice that will serve deep analysis of texts both in the course and later in university-level English classes. To supplement the two-semester reading list, students accepted in the course will be required to read a selected group of works during the summer preceding the fall semester. All students are required to take the Advanced Placement Literature and Composition exam. A fee that covers the cost of this test will be charged to each student. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - See admission to honors and AP courses in English. (UC “b” English-UC AP/Honors)
  • Creative Writing

    This course is a semester-long unit of study designed for students who are interested in writing short pieces of fiction, non-fiction, and original pieces of poetry. Students will be expected to develop authentic pieces of poetry, creative essays and execute the structure of short story development. A final creative writing portfolio to showcase to a college or a university will act as the end goal of this course. This is an elective course that would be taken in addition to, not instead of, required English courses.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This elective course is open to 11th and 12th grade students with a 78% or higher in their previous English courses. This is a UC Approved Course and should be taken by students that have serious interest in creative writing. (UC “b” English; ND Elective) 
  • Harlem Renaissance

    This course examines the period in literary history between roughly 1919-1929, in which the emergence of African/African-American culture profoundly impacted society through the arts, music, literature, theatre, politics, religion, and education. During this time, Harlem in New York became the mecca for most African-American writers to get published and exhibit their talents. The course examines the various themes that emerged during this period, focusing both on the forces that led to this “renaissance,” as well as on the issues which fed and fueled it. Key to the discussion will be developing an understanding of the “Black Aesthetic” pertinent to writers, critics, and readers, and the concept of how African/African-American Literature strove to become a universal literary genre. Students should view their discussion, scholarship, and writing as an ongoing progression to understanding, knowledge, and insight, rather than as a fact-finding mission for a “correct” answer. This is an elective course taken in addition to, not instead of, the required grade-level English courses. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - This elective course is open to 11th and 12th-grade students who have earned no lower than a “C”/ 75% both semesters in College Prep English  (UC “b” English; ND Elective) 
  • AP Capstone Program

    AP Capstone is a diploma program based on two year-long AP courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. These courses are designed to complement other AP courses that the AP Capstone student may take. Instead of teaching specific subject knowledge, AP Seminar and AP Research use an interdisciplinary approach to develop the critical thinking, research, collaboration, time management, and presentation skills students need for college-level work. The College Board developed the AP Capstone Diploma program at the request of higher education professionals, who saw a need for a systematic way for high school students to begin mastering these skills before college. Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing receive the AP Capstone DiplomaTM from the College Board. Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research but not on four additional AP Exams receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate issued by the College Board.

    Students take AP Seminar followed by AP Research. Each course is year-long, and AP Seminar is a prerequisite for AP Research.
    In both courses, students investigate a variety of topics in multiple disciplines. Students may choose to explore topics related to other AP courses they’re taking. Both courses guide students through completing a research project, writing an academic paper, and making a presentation on their project.
  • AP Seminar

    AP Seminar provides sustained practice of investigating issues from multiple perspectives and cultivates student writing abilities so they can craft, communicate, and defend evidence-based arguments. Students are empowered to collect and analyze information with accuracy and precision and are assessed through a team project and presentation, an individual written essay and presentation, and a written exam. The first semester focuses on the theme of the African diaspora; the second semester focuses on texts chosen by the College Board. This is an elective English course taken in addition to, not instead of, the required grade-level English courses. All students are required to take the Advanced Placement Seminar exam. A fee that covers the cost of this test will be charged to each student.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This elective course is open to juniors and seniors, and it is strongly recommended that they are simultaneously enrolled in AP English Language (or have taken it as juniors). See admission to honors and AP courses in English. (UC “b” English; UC AP/Honors; ND Elective) 
  • AP Research

    AP Research allows students to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, or issue of individual interest. Through this exploration, students design, plan, and conduct a yearlong investigation to address a research question. In the AP Research course, students further develop the skills acquired in the AP Seminar course by learning research methodology, employing ethical research practices, and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information. Students reflect on their skill development, document their processes, and curate the artifacts of their scholarly work through a process and reflection portfolio. In the classroom and independently (while possibly consulting with an expert adviser in the field), students learn and employ research and inquiry methods to develop, manage, and conduct an in-depth investigation of an area of personal interest. The course culminates in an academic paper of 4,000 to 5,000 words (accompanied by a performance, exhibit, or product where applicable) and a presentation with an oral defense.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This interdisciplinary elective is open to seniors who have successfully completed the AP Seminar course (minimum of 80%). This is an interdisciplinary and non-departmental course. (UC “g” Elective (interdisciplinary); UC AP/Honors) 

Faculty

List of 12 items.