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Values, Vision, Voice

To receive a Preston High School diploma, a student must pass with a grade of 65 or higher during her four years of English study. At the end of her junior year, a Preston student takes The New York State Common Core Regents Exam in English.  

9th Grade 

We might rightly subtitle this course “Reading and Writing for High School Success” because it emphasizes developmental reading and writing skills. Students learn strategies for improving their comprehension of difficult texts while we also highlight expanding vocabulary. Students will read a variety of works from a wide range of genres such as The Catcher in the Rye, Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color of Water, short stories, and poetry. Students also hone their writing skills through grammar and process-instruction. Students compose expository, persuasive, analytical, researched, and creative pieces—therefore developing a varied portfolio of their writing accomplishments.  Preparation for the NYS Common Core English Regents Exam begins at this stage. We also offer an honors section for qualified students.

This required, year-long course addresses all freshmen in a reading-workshop structure so they can strengthen reading-comprehension strategies needed for all content areas. Pieces from an English class, for example, initiates reading strategies while history, science, religion, math, language, and art content offers opportunities for students to subsequently reinforce such techniques. Like any course, this class requires classwork, homework, tests, quizzes, and group projects. Later in the year, particular attention centers on SAT and Common Core test-taking strategies. By the course’s end, students should more thoroughly understand their thinking processes so they can pride themselves in becoming independent and cognizant learners.

For one quarter of the year, freshmen take this course to practice planned, impromptu, and creative public speaking tasks. Through such informal and formal projects, students learn the craft and skills involved with public oration and active, productive listening. 

10th Grade

Students study British Literature from the Old English period to modern times. We emphasize analytical and persuasive essays, creative writing, and literary research papers. Additional instruction includes oral presentations, vocabulary practice, grammar strategies, close readings of literary texts, independent readings, and PSAT preparation. Instruction for the NYS Common Core English Regents Exam also continues. In addition to a textbook, the students will read a variety of works from British literature, including Grendel, Pride and Prejudice, and Macbeth. To enroll in this course, a student must have successfully completed English 1. To enroll in the honors level course, a student must have mastered English 1 and receive departmental approval. 

11th Grade

Students study American Literature to understand the country’s philosophical underpinnings and how they influence our modern age. Through practicing close reading, analytical and persuasive writing, and literary research, students sharpen their critical thinking to understand not only what they read, but what they observe in the world around them. Additional instruction includes oral presentations, vocabulary practice, and SAT preparation. Instruction for the NYS Common Core English Regents Exam also continues, as students take the exam during their junior year, in June. Students read a variety of works including The Crucible, The Great Gatsby, Transcendentalist essays, and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  To enroll in this course, a student must have successfully completed English 2.

This course enhances analytical writing, critical reading and thinking skills to prepare students for success in college and the workplace.  Students read a broad spectrum of non-fiction and visual texts to analyze rhetoric, language and images.  Each student takes the AP English Language and Composition exam in May and the New York State ELA Common Core exam in June.  (Please see the ‘Criteria for Entrance into Honors Classes’ tab for more detailed information on qualifying for this class.) 

Prerequisite: To take this class, a student must have successfully completed English 2 Honors, achieved an average of 90 in the English Regents class, and must have submitted a writing sample administered by the English Department. In addition, all potential students for this class must receive departmental approval.

12th Grade

This full-year course focuses on an in-depth study of a wide range of literary texts. Literature studied has included Hamlet, Oedipus Rex, Death of a Salesman, Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, The Awakening, The Things They Carried, as well as shorter works. Emphasis is also placed on the refinement of analytical writing skills, as well as preparation for the Advanced Placement exam given in early May. All students taking this course are expected to sit for this exam. Students are also required to complete several analytical research projects based on their reading.

Prerequisite: Enrollment in this class requires the permission of the course instructor or the department chairperson.

All non-AP students are required to take this one-semester course during the fall term. The course emphasizes close reading of texts and continued development of higher-order reading and thinking skills vital for success in college. The writing component of the course emphasizes analytical writing; a research paper is required. Works studied include a broad range of literature representing major components of the Western Canon and world literature and an eclectic assortment of authors.

This one-semester seminar familiarizes students with a wide variety of writing styles and formats and asks them to produce examples of each technique. They will read a variety of literature which will serve as models for writing. While special emphasis is placed on creative writing, students also learn advanced editing skills. Students are not only required to write, they are expected to share their writing with the class in order to benefit from critiques offered by their peers. Students are required to maintain and submit a portfolio of their work for evaluation. In order to allow for sufficient time to discuss and critique student work in a seminar format, enrollment is strictly limited to a maximum of 20 students. Submission of writing samples and permission of the Creative Writing teacher are required for enrollment.

This one-semester course explores the psychological underpinnings of our earliest stories. Students examine classical myths, fairy tales, folk tales and some modern novels from an adult perspective to understand how they reflect the human experience and to better understand themselves. In addition to reading and discussing a wide variety of works, students will write essays and creative pieces. This course culminates in a school examination or equivalent project.

This one-semester course focuses on drama. Students will read a number of classical and modern plays, including comedies and more serious works. In addition to class discussions and written analyses of drama, the class will view and critique film versions of the plays in order to understand and appreciate the differences in technical and artistic interpretation between stage and screen versions of the same play. This course culminates in a school examination or equivalent project.

This half-year course allows students to study a variety of media forms. Students identify types of media (television, radio, print) and each one's appeals to the public. They study the history of television, radio and advertising and how these media represent cultural values. Students are required to view television programs/advertising/films in class. The writing aspect of this course includes essays and projects. This course culminates in a school examination or equivalent project.

This full-year course involves an extensive study of the history of film. Both the technological, historical and sociological aspects of film are studied in a chronological pattern, enabling the student to evaluate the development of film as an art form and as a representation of modern culture. Both American and foreign films are studied and emphasis is given to specific periods in film history, such as Silent Film and Film Noir. Films are viewed and discussed in class. The writing aspects of this class include tests and essays. This course culminates in a research project or an oral or filmed presentation.

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