There is perhaps no richer soil for growth in the hearts, souls and minds of our students than the soil of great literature. At Trinity, students gain exposure to the rich genres of lyric, epic, fable, myth, theatrical play, fiction, and more. Great books are placed in the hands of our students to be used as tools to craft minds that desire truth, goodness and beauty. Whether toiling with Macbeth, adventuring with Huckleberry Finn, or exploring Plato’s Republic, teachers create environments intended to probe the themes of virtue, honor, wisdom, and truth. Literature is purposefully integrated with history, and teachers work together to craft lessons with both in mind.
Writing becomes more and more important as students use their backgrounds in Logic and Rhetoric to write increasingly complex essays and papers exploring topics related to these core classes. As a culmination to the senior year, students research, write, defend and present a paper of approximately 20 pages to their Upper School peers and faculty advisors. Following the presentation, an unrehearsed question and answer time ensues, requiring the student presenter to think on their feet and remain calm under pressure. Guests are continuously impressed with our students’ abilities to handle this remarkable feat with confidence and poise. We can’t imagine better preparation for these rising graduates as they embark upon college and beyond.
Ninth Grade English:
Freshmen encounter books tied to ancient civilizations as literature intentionally combines with history under a Humanities approach. Students are exposed to The Odyssey, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Iliad, Beowulf, Romeo and Juliet, and Chaucer. Students’ writing is often tied to the literature they are reading at the time, and by the end of the course, students are creating essays using The Lost Tools of Writing program. Perhaps the most compelling part of the writing program we employ is its ability to be integrated into the literature and history the students are currently studying.
Tenth Grade English:
Coupled with a history course focused on Western Civilization from 1450 to present day, sophomore students read literary works based on the time period. Some of the titles include: Milton’s Paradise Lost, Dante’s Inferno, and Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Class time is spent in complex discussions, learning how to orally present defense of literary themes, and writing comparative essays. Teachers of tenth graders employ the strategies of The Lost Tools of Writing program in order to help their students write sound essays and papers. Dialogue, presentations, and projects round out the sophomore English experience.
Eleventh Grade English:
Juniors study Unites States history in tandem with American authors in literature. This intentional teaching method exposes our students to: Emerson, Hawthorne, Poe, Thoreau, Whitman, Dickinson, Hughes, and Faulkner – just to name a few. Students explore American cultural themes and literary works while creating essays and an end-of-year research paper of considerable length. Students present orally, engage in dialogue with their classmates and teachers, and work on project teams during their time in Junior English.
Twelfth Grade English:
Senior literature focuses on a survey of the British Isles with particular emphasis on the modern and post-modern periods. Students read selections such as Camus’ The Stranger, Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Students are expected to carefully read and critically analyze this imaginative literature and deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide meaning and pleasure for their readers.
Seniors get one-on-one coaching in a class called “Senior Writing” designed to assist them in the task of creating their final research project, the Senior Thesis. A year-long endeavor, the thesis culminates in a final presentation before student body and faculty just before graduation. Students share a 20 minute presentation summarizing their research paper, engage in spontaneous Q&A with the faculty and students afterward, and admittedly rejoice when it is completed! Even the most timid students show skill and poise when presenting their research; it is truly a delight to witness. Senior thesis is a highly anticipated event schoolwide and always affirms all the hard work that goes into – and comes out of – a Trinity education.