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Westside seniors are exploring Hamlet, Shakespeare’s psychological thriller highlighting the young Prince Hamlet’s search for justice and revenge. Students write literary analysis papers and perform original soliloquies.
Sophomore English students are reading The Tragedy of Julius Caesar: Shakespeare’s historical rendition of the assassination Caesar. Students analyze famous monologues and soliloquies in the play, paying particular attention to rhetorical devices to prepare for in-class debates.
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Summary: It is the 1930’s in Maycomb, Alabama. Racism runs rampant, and so does Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. The protagonist, six year old “Scout” Finch has many adventures alongside her eight year old brother Jem, her lawyer father Atticus Finch, and many other interesting characters of the town. Little does she know that the town will encounter many difficult issues over the next two years of her life. A humble and honest man of color is accused of assaulting a white woman, and the case is headed to a supposedly “fair” trial. The town’s ugly underbelly is exposed, and Scout learns hard lessons about character and human nature. Will justice prevail? Will hate and prejudice see reason and forgiveness? Will the integrity of Atticus Finch be enough to save Scout and Jem?
Why we’re reading: Our world is rife with injustice, and in desperate need of people of unshakeable integrity. There are invaluable lessons to be learned from this book that can change hearts, minds, and – most importantly actions – if we will seek out the wisdom to be found. We read this book to better understand ourselves and the world around us.
Romeo & Juliet – William Shakespeare
Summary: Two upper class families of Verona are engaged in a feud that has killed many years, and many men. Yet, out of bitter battle comes love at first sight. Romeo sees Juliet across a crowded room and is transfixed. Juliet sees Romeo and is enraptured. But, will Romeo & Juliet’s young love be enough to overcome the stubborn pride and desperate hate that swirls around them? What does true love look like? Where do dreams end and practicality begin?
Why we’re reading: Hate is easily found in our city, our state, and our nation. There is only one way to deal with hate: love. But, love is vastly misunderstood and abused in our culture today. The heart is neglected while emotions and temporary feelings are infused with Monster energy drinks. We read this play to better understand what true love looks like, how to listen to our God-given hearts, and to gain a sense of compassion for the world around us.
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Summary: Guy Montag is a fireman. But, in the future firemen do not put out fires, they start them. Guy has been told all his life that books and ideas are bad and that they should be burned, so for many years he does as he is told. Until one day a “peculiar” young woman, and then an “insane” old woman, challenge his thinking. Are books and ideas as bad as he has been told? Maybe life will be better with more distractions and less time for thinking? Will he find the answers he seeks, or will his curiosity lead to his death?
Why we’re reading: In an increasingly polarizing cultural fabric, it is more important than ever before to learn to listen to ideas and opposing viewpoints. For many, listening is a last resort when it should be a default first option. We read this book to better understand our response to opposing ideas, and to learn to appreciate ideas – even if we do not agree with them. We also read this book to understand that faster does not necessarily mean better, and easier is not always a good thing.
The AP Language and Composition class is delving into F. Scott Fitzgerald’s well-known masterpiece, The Great Gatsby. Set in what Fitzgerald called the Jazz Age, we follow the lives of five upper class individuals in their pursuit for meaning, purpose, and love in a city where people valued wealth, vapid hedonism, and intrigue.
Fitzgerald is a true wordsmith as he tells the story of the elusive Jay Gatsby and his secret past. The novel touches on themes like the pursuit of the American Dream, society and class, love, memory and the past, and dissatisfaction all through Fitzgerald’s vibrant and brilliant use of language.
Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick
Teacher Commentary: The history of Pilgrims and Puritans settling in New England in 1600’s and their struggle for survival, with Indians. Students need to know of past difficulties to appreciate present blessings. Also as they struggled, we can show fortitude when we have problems to overcome. In addition, the whites and Indians failed often to understand and appreciate other cultures to their own detriment.
1776 by David McCullough
Teacher Commentary: The first real year of the Revolutionary War gives an appreciation for the overwhelming difficulties the Americans faced and how fortunate we are that a few men performed at such a high level to acquire our freedom.
Presidential Courage by Michael Beschloss
Teacher Commentary: The study of 8 presidents who took on difficult challenges and made a choice (on principle) that moved America forward.
Cold War edited by Robert Crowley
Teacher Commentary: Little known parts of this now nearly forgotten time with the top experts’ pieces which might not be in a typical history text. With the fall of the Soviet Union and communism, many students are growing up without an understanding of how and why the West won.
What our freshmen students are reading in World History and AP World History.
Teacher Commentary: Takes place in England and France during the early period of the French Revolution. It is the story of a beautiful French actress who becomes the wife of a wealthy Englishman. The story is filled with the various plots of the Scarellet Pimpernel to free the aristocrats of Paris who are being guillotined daily.
Teacher Commentary: The story focuses on pre- and post-colonial life in late nineteenth century Nigeria. The novel is divided into three parts, with the first describing Okonkwo’s family, personal history, and the customs and society of the Igbo people. The second and third sections introduce the influence of British colonialism and Christian miss
What our senior students are reading in Government (first semester) and Economics (second).
Teacher Commentary: The authors refute the often used line, You cannot legislate morality. They present the struggle of traditional Christian viewpoints in today’s post modern world. Abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality are presented from the Left and the Christian Right views. Students should talk about these subjects in a safe environment, while living at home and attending a Christian school, were they can discuss what it means to live out a Biblical worldview.
Teacher Commentary: Mini Biographies of 6 famous people who had significant impact on the later 20th and early 21st centuries. These are inspiring people who our students would do well to emulate.
Teacher Commentary: The authors study affluent people and give insights on how we can learn valuable traits from them to lead a less stressful and more fulfilling life. Our students are daily subjected to clever advertising, and need tools to avoid debt and the discipline to become economically successful.
Teacher Commentary: The author presents conservative answers to today’s economic questions. Students are repeatedly hearing liberal doctrine on economics in colleges today and should read opposing viewpoints as well.