The English Language Arts program is designed to develop critical reading and analytical skills.  We hope to encourage a life-long love of reading as well as equip our students with the communication skills necessary for college and beyond. To that end, our students enjoy guided writing instruction and ample practice with writing in the many modes of discourse. In an effort to broaden the students’ vocabulary and improve word choice in writing and speaking, students complete weekly units in the Sadlier Vocabulary Workbook series.  All students are expected to complete summer reading assignments.  Preparation for standardized tests (SAT and ACT) is part of the curriculum.


We offer two College Board classes: AP English Literature & Composition and AP English Language & Composition.

Students who are ready for a more accelerated pace and greater depth of analysis are invited to take these college level courses.  Juniors and seniors in AP are required to take the May exam and have the opportunity to earn college credit.


Grade 9/ Honors
Pearson Literature: Grade Nine
The Count of Monte Cristo—Dumas
Romeo and Juliet—Shakespeare
The Odyssey—Homer
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime—Haddon
The Glass Castle—Walls
The Book Thief—Zusak
**The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—Stevenson

Grade 10/Honors
Pearson Literature: The American Experience
The Scarlet Letter—Hawthorne
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn—Twain
The Great Gatsby—Fitzgerald
The Crucible— Miller
A Separate Peace—Knowles
*Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close—Foer
**The Things They Carried—O’Brien

Grade 11/ AP
Prentice Hall Literature: The British Experience
Brave New World—Huxley
Lord of the Flies—Golding
The Importance of Being Earnest—Wilde
**The Art of the Short Story—Gioia
**The Picture of Dorian Gray—Wilde
**A Prayer for Owen Meany—Irving
** Pride and Prejudice—Austen

Grade 12/ AP
Things Fall Apart—Achebe
*In the Time of the Butterflies—Alvarez
*Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress—Sijie
**Daisy Miller—James
**The Catcher in the Rye—Salinger
** I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings—Angelou
**Reading Lolita in Tehran—Nafisi
**One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich—Solzhenitsyn
** Heart of Darkness—Conrad


Grade 9                Cross-curricular research paper, argument, literary analysis, personal narrative
Grade 10              Expository research paper, literary essays, analytical essays
Grade 11              Substantiating arguments; advanced literary analysis, synthesis of critical articles into student writing
Grade 12              Literary and rhetorical analysis, personal narrative, expository writing, argument, research paper

All grades use A Pocket Style Guide, 2016 MLA Update Edition by Diana Hacker (Bedford/St. Martin’s).

Indicates College Prep selection
**Indicates additional selections for Honors/ AP

Research skills and writing are emphasized each year.


  • Speech – All students are required to take a semester of public speaking. The class focuses on developing socially effective communication skills.  Verbal and non-verbal forms of communication, along with listening skills, are studied.  Voice effectiveness, enunciation, use of gestures, and proper posture are stressed.  The art of formal speech writing is an essential part of each presentation. The class culminates with a recorded speech video implementing all styles and techniques learned.
  • Acting – Acting students are introduced to the history of theatre through the performance of scenes and monologues from classic and contemporary literature. Students learn about movement, vocal interpretation, pantomime and basic character analysis. The survey of dramatic literature is enhanced by students’ researched presentations on playwrights such as Marlowe, Chekhov, and Beckett. This elective can be taken to fulfill the public speaking requirement for graduation.
  • JournalismThe Observer Newspaper and Online –This class focuses on all aspects of news writing and production related to print and new media. Students study interviewing, writing, editing and layout and design using PhotoShop and InDesign software. Other coursework includes promotions, event planning and business management related to the cost of publishing. It is the only high school journalism program in the state of Michigan to enjoy a professional mentoring relationship with theDetroit News. Visitors include working professionals from the fields of reporting, editing, finance, photography, videography and radio and television. The Observer is a student newspaper operation solely responsible for raising funds to cover its production costs. It is a production class that closely mirrors real-world business operations outside of the school setting.
  • Yearbook – The Spirit Yearbook – This class is open to juniors and seniors. Students are responsible for the production of the annual yearbook, including the copy, layout, photography, and business management.
  • Creative Writing – Students examine the craft of storytelling through a wide range of classic and contemporary authors (e.g., Tennyson, Alvarez, Welty, Carver, Munro, Marquez, and Saunders). Through a study of short stories, scripts, and poetry, students develop their own creative writing with attention to dialogue, structure, characterization, figurative language, and narrative voice. In addition to class activities, students enter writing contests and contribute to student publications.
  • Film Study – Students view classic and contemporary films in a variety of genres including science fiction, documentary, film noir, drama, and comedy. Students are introduced to the history of film and study topics in 20th century American and European history. An examination of the craft of cinematography (e.g., editing, sound, light, composition, camera movement) provides a foundation for a few analytical essays in MLA style. This class can be taken as an elective in History or English or can be applied to the Arts requirement for graduation.
  • Military Literature – Military Literature is a class designed to involve students in the reading, analysis, and discussion of literature focused on the lives of soldiers. Issues of physical and psychological survival, battle tactics, and the impact of warfare on human beings are covered. The course involves reading and a wide range of writing assignments (both creative and expository) that allow students to come face to face with the reality of warfare in past and current battle zones. This class is a one semester English or History elective credit.