CURRICULUM

It's not just about the classes here at FSHA. In addition to a full slate of class offerings, including 24 Advanced Placement classes and electives that cover all disciplines, learning extends throughout and beyond the classroom.

Research Program
Our innovative program.
Our Teachers
Meet our inspiring faculty.

English Program Overview

The English department guides students through an in-depth program in critical reading, literary analysis, interpretation, discourse and writing. The department offers nine courses on two levels — the standard courses English 1-4 and the advanced courses, which comprise Advanced English 1, Honors English 2, AP English 3 (Language and Composition), and AP English 4 (Literature and Composition). Journalism is offered as an elective. In fulfillment of the four-year English requirement, students read, discuss, analyze and write in response to over 40 major works from the canons of world, American and British literature. With the aim of developing strong competencies in analytical, argumentative, creative and personal writing, all English courses are writing-intensive and deeply supportive of independent thinking and original expression. Each course includes instruction in vocabulary acquisition, grammar, usage, mechanics and style; additionally, each year's curriculum includes a substantial research assignment. The overarching goal of the department is to give our students every opportunity to become effective readers, thinkers and writers.

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English Courses

List of 12 frequently asked questions.

  • Creative Writing

    Prerequisite: None

    In the semester-long elective course, students will develop their creative writing skills and individual authorial voices through recurrent daily practice writing.  The students are given daily prompts - themes, lines of literary text, autobiography, first or last lines of novels or short stories, and visual images and are then expected to repsond by writing from that origin.  By means of these daily exercises, students probe their capacity for visual writing, reflection and self-discovery.  They are encourgaed to risk giving voice to distinctly individual perceptions and to express themselves exactly as they are, not as they ought to be.
  • AP English & Language Composition

    Prerequisite: Prerequisite: A- in English II, B+ in Honors English II and department approval.

    The third year of English includes integrating literature, writing, grammar and vocabulary. The course seeks to improve the students' control of the skills of communication: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Offering the students a variety of texts—both fiction and non-fiction—from the American canon to read and enjoy, the course aims at making them critical readers with fertile imaginations and a keen interest in reading. The writing skills of the previous years are reviewed and expanded. While studied as a separate unit, vocabulary is also incorporated with literature. Students are asked to consider the role writing plays in the field of American Studies. 

    This AP course includes more challenging reading and writing assignments aimed at preparing the students for successful completion of the Advanced Placement English Language examination given in May. Many more short writings are also included with the focus on rhetoric, analysis, and support of ideas. Emphasis is placed on usage of the language. Students are taught advanced research skills and time in spent learning how to use their grammar books and research guides as learning tools.
  • AP English & Literature Composition

    Prerequisite: A- in English III or B+ in AP English III and department approval.

    Advanced Placement English IV includes challenging reading and writing assignments aimed at refining the students’ critical thinking and communication skills and preparing the students for the successful completion of the Advanced Placement examination in literature and composition given in May. Required texts include novels, plays, poetry, short stories, and essays from both British and world literature. Students will write on every work they read, focusing on the details and style of the text. Vocabulary and rhetorical techniques enrich the curriculum as students incorporate both into the development and control of own writing voice and into their increasingly sophisticated analysis of the literature. 
  • English I

    Prerequisite: None

    A one-year course, English I integrates grammar, writing, literature and vocabulary. Grammar lessons focus on an understanding of the basic sentence structures in the English language and of the grammatical rules that follow from those. The course also provides instruction in and opportunities for written expression, helping the students develop their ability in writing sentences, paragraphs, and full formal essays. In literature the students are introduced to the basic elements of the various literary genres for the purpose of developing their critical reading skills. Besides being taught as a separate unit, vocabulary is also integrated with literature. Vocabulary and grammar skills are also taught in preparation for the PSAT taken in the sophomore and junior years. During the summer prior to English I, accepted freshman students complete an independent reading assignment. This assignment is due the first week of school in September and students will receive credit.
  • Advanced English I

    Prerequisite: Superior score on HSPT entrance exam and department approval.

    Advanced English I is an intensive course in writing and critical reading. Students should come to the course having already mastered basic grammar skills and elementary expository composition. A genre-based course, Advanced English I exposes the students to poetry, plays, a novel, and short stories. Requiring students to do both imaginative and analytical writing, the course focuses on topics and skills that are relevant to the writing process: grammar, syntax, usage, mechanics, vocabulary acquisition, critical thinking, analysis, and interpretation. Reading challenging works of literature, students learn how to structure and lead discussions based on the details of the text. Lively class discussions and smaller group work represent an important part of the development of critical thinking and expression. The Advanced English I course requires significant reading, and students are expected to assimilate material rapidly. Prior to the beginning of the school year, students complete two summer reading books and write an essay due when they begin school. This is the first of two courses intended as preparation for AP English III and AP English IV.
  • English II

    Prerequisite: Successful completion of English I.

    English II is a one-year course in world literature that strengthens the grammar, writing, literature and vocabulary skills gained in grade 9. Writing assignments include short pieces, in-class timed writing, paragraph-length responses to  reading, longer analytical  essays, a research paper, and a personal narrative. Literature assignments come from a variety of challenging works–-novels, essays, short stories, short works of nonfiction, personal narratives and poetry—that depict conflicts between individual characters and the religious, political, social, and cultural imperatives that govern their lives. help refine the students' knowledge of literary genres and techniques. Discussion is a central element of the course.
  • English II - Honors

    Prerequisite: A- in English I or B+ in Advanced English I and department approval.

    Honors English II, while covering much of the same material as English II, (literature, writing, grammar and PSAT preparation) is designed to include a greater depth of study of the material. Students entering the course will be expected to have a solid foundation in English grammar and to have advanced writing skills. Reading and writing assignments will be more varied, with an emphasis placed on further development of critical thinking skills. This course is strongly recommended as a preparation for AP English III.
  • English III

    Prerequisite: Successful completion of English II.

    Integrating literature, writing, grammar and vocabulary, English III, a one-year course, seeks to improve the students' control of the skills of communication: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Offering the students a variety of texts—including poetry, fiction, and non-fiction—from the American canon to read and enjoy, the course aims at making them critical readers with fertile imaginations and a keen interest in reading. The writing skills of the previous years are reviewed and expanded. While studied as a separate unit, vocabulary is also incorporated with literature. Students are asked to consider the role writing plays in the field of American Studies.
  • English IV

    Prerequisite: Successful completion of English III.

    As at the other three levels, English IV is offered as a one-year course, integrating the various language arts: literature, writing, grammar and vocabulary. Aimed at making critical readers out of the students, the course covers a variety of genres, chosen from the literary masterpieces of Western literature. Writing skills are reviewed; written assignments, which include the research paper, are focused on critical analysis and independent thinking. Usage and punctuation are reviewed as a support to writing and as a means of helping students with college placement tests. Vocabulary is taught as part of literature and as a distinct unit.
  • Journalism I

    Prerequisite: None

    Journalism is a one-year elective course, which covers basic journalistic principles in news and feature writing. Students in this production-oriented class write articles for the school newspaper Veritas Shield and learn how to produce the paper using a computer pagination program. The course may also cover public relations, broadcast journalism, ethics and other media-related topics.
  • Journalism II

    Prerequisite: Journalism I and department approval.

    Journalism II is a yearlong elective course. Students will be assigned in-depth news and feature stories and editorials, and will be exposed to the business side of producing the school newspaper Veritas Shield. The class is production-oriented, and will further the student's mastery of page layout using computer pagination. Each student must assume an editorial position, which will require extra time outside of the regular class. The course may also cover public relations, broadcast journalism, ethics and other media-related topics.
  • Journalism III

    Prerequisite: Journalism II and department approval.

    Journalism III is a yearlong elective. Students will take a major leadership role on the school publication Veritas Shield, which will require substantial extra time outside of the classroom. Students will write substantive feature stories, news articles and editorials, in addition to editing other student work. They will plan the editorial content for each issue, and will design creative computer-paginated pages. Students will also spearhead a service project, which will include selection, planning, implementation and editorial coverage. The course may also cover public relations, broadcast journalism, ethics and other media-related topics.
"FSHA always challenged me to be a better student. The classes pushed me to expand my thinking and work hard. I'm ready for college because of the education I received here." —Kayla Grahn '15

English Faculty

List of 6 members.

  • Holly Hunnewell 

    English Dept. Chair / English Teacher
    626-685-8335
    Stanford University - A.B.
    Claremont Graduate University - M.Ed.
  • Mark Bernstein 

    English Teacher
    626-685-8592
    Georgetown University - BSFS
    University of California, Los Angeles - M.A.
    University of California, Los Angeles - PhD
  • Tom Dibblee 

    English / Journalism Teacher
    626-685-8300
  • Andrew Eisenstein 

    English Teacher
    626-685-8385
    University of Southern California - MA
    University of California: Santa Cruz - BA
  • Laura Hansen 

    Residential Life / English Teacher
    626-685-8300
    Stanford University - BA
    Stanford University - MA
    Harvard University - M.Ed.
  • Emily Wilkinson 

    English Teacher
    626-685-8516
    Stanford University - PhD
    Columbia - BA
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy is an all girls' Catholic, Dominican, independent, college-preparatory day and boarding high school in the hills of La Cañada Flintridge. Overlooking Pasadena, FSHA educates girls from Los Angeles, Southern California and around the world for a life of faith, integrity and truth. 

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy

440 St. Katherine Drive
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
Phone: 626-685-8300

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