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Summer reading assignments challenge students

For some students, summer constitutes times where endless amounts of freedom can be found. For others, summer quickly disappears while they drudge through heaps of homework. This dedication can only mean one thing: that a student is trying to get into an Advanced Placement (AP) or honors English class in the fall.

Due to the deep analytical and demanding aspects of the latter, some students find it too troublesome and difficult to join. However, academic advisor Molly Sargent believes there are many benefits for taking an accelerated class.

“For one, the class benefits you in that, by passing the test, you will receive college credit,” Sargent said. “Another reason is that you learn far more about that subject matter than in any other class. Also, the application to the subject matter is more creative then in a regular class.”

Honors English I

For this year’s incoming freshmen, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein was on the agenda. English teacher Greg Stobbe hopes students gain an appreciation for the human nature after reading this novel.

“For the most part, the class does not allow books based on fantasy, but since the series is over ten years old, it’s something the students know about,” Stobbe said. “It’s a great background book. It’s an easy read, but has a lot of symbolism, character development and is a good intro on how to write.”

Though some see summer reading as difficult, Mackenzie Devereaux, ’15, knows the class will end with good results.

“It was kind of hard to understand,” Devereaux said. “It’s not fun to have to do homework over summer, but it does make sense to have to do extra work to get into the class.”

Honors English II

Higher up on the totem pole, the sophomores were given two novels to read over summer. The first was Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, which illustrated the endurance of a Christian during the Holocaust. They also read All Quiet on the Western Front, a fictional documentation of the German front during the WWI.

Stobbe has students read two similarly set novels for specific reasons. He hopes students gain an understanding of what human nature entails and that similarities are noticeable even on two entirely different fronts.

“The two characters are really different. Paul is a soldier and Corrie’s a civilian, but it’s neat to read about similar human conditions in two different occasions,” Stobbe said. “Past the looks, though we think things are different, in reality it’s very similar.”

Daniel Moore, ’14, thinks the similarities between the two characters makes the reading more interesting.

“I thought they were good books,” Moore said. “I liked that they both were based on the same topic but from different views.”

Moore enjoys the challenge and results he gets from taking an honors class, and has decided to continue taking more.

“I like the challenge and I want to learn so I can write good essays next year,” Moore said. “[The class] is kind of fun. I like reading and studying literature.”

AP Literature and Composition

For this year’s AP Literature and Composition class, an English class set aside for upperclassmen, Sargent decided to go over John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View. One main reason for Forster’s novel is that the protagonist, Lucy Honeychurch, experiences dilemmas that are somewhat similar in students’ lives now.

“The main character [Lucy] is about the same age as the students,” Sargent said. “She’s also dealing with some of the same decisions they are: who she is and whether or not to live up to the expectations of others or live as her true self.”

Lizzie Williams, ’12, enjoyed certain factors about both novels, but felt the need to adjust to the different novels to be difficult.

“It was nice having variety, but it was kind of hard to adjust to the reading,” Williams said. “I definitely liked the Grapes of Wrath more because it was just really interesting and different from any book I’ve read before. For A Room with a View, the characters was what really stood out from that book.”

Sargent aspires for students to gain an appreciation for themselves and believes Forster’s novel to be completely appropriate for the class.

“Students should learn an appreciation for who they are,” Sargent said. “In AP Literature and Composition, they are exposed to different views. This prepares them to defend their beliefs.”

For more features, read the Sept. 2 article Former student steps into FC teaching position.

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