English honors project undergoes modifications

Elizabeth Roedel, Contributing Writer

This year, a significant change has been made in the English department.  In order to receive honors credit for their English classes, all participating freshman and sophomore students will complete a newly modified honors project.

While it varied from class to class, the honors project used to be an opportunity for students to receive honors credit by reading around three books per semester, and writing a long essay.

Students were also required to attend an author lecture, and some teachers required reading journals and shorter essays throughout the course of the project as well.  The opportunity to complete this project was offered to freshman, sophomores, and juniors.

At the beginning of this school year, Principal Mr. Ira Pernick and the English department announced the changes to the honors project. Signs were posted around English classes to inform the students.

The new project will give students the chance to read and annotate two literary works per semester. Students are also expected to schedule at least two meetings with their English teacher or project mentor.

In order to be granted full credit, students are expected to revise, edit, and seek constructive criticism before submitting each essay requirement.    Visits to the Writing Center are also encouraged.

For freshmen and sophomores it is now a year-long project.

The most significant modifications to this year’s project is the change in writing requirements.

“A change in the program is the short analytical response papers students will write in place of one long paper at the end of the semester,” said English department chairsperson Ms. Eileen Mills.

Students must include a well-organized portfolio consisting of fifteen to twenty pages of writing that demonstrate their growth as readers and writers by the year’s end.

Additionally, instead of the usual Sept. deadline for students to hand in their proposals, this year they will be due Oct. 16.  This specific change was implemented so students will have more time to seriously consider the new option as they become adjusted to their classes.

Juniors should be aware that this new version of the project will not be offered to them this year.

While many juniors  chose to participate in a project last year, the English department decided that the best decision would be to offer the new project format to freshmen and sophomores only.

The English Department felt it necessary to try this new model with the core English classes before trying it with the electives. And according to Mr. Pernick, the reason for the sudden change is simple.

“We’ve changed things to properly evaluate everything and make adjustments.  Adjustments are made throughout life and I think this one makes perfect sense. We want to try to create an English honors project that gives students the opportunity to be successful and provide them with the least amount of stress possible,” said Mr. Pernick.

The decision to change the honors program is supported by the English teachers

“The English Department as a whole supports the change because philosophically, we believe the honors option provides a much richer learning experience than traditional honors classes.  We encourage students to participate in this heterogeneous program as opposed to the homogeneous honors classes since the students who do choose to participate on their own time are perceived as true honors students,” said Ms. Mills.