Given that they share one-course title, the variety of 9th-grade English classes may come as a surprise, with current reads ranging from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Twelfth Night, Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, to Shelley’s Frankenstein. While the fall semester was consistent with almost all classes simultaneously reading The Odyssey, the second semester’s variety tells a different story.

As a student in Laurence Vanleynseele’s English class, I’m currently reading Macbeth, a classic Shakespearean play about a man experiencing the detrimental effects of power. I find the text more difficult to understand compared to other books since Shakespeare created his own way of writing and using language. Though this is the only class reading Macbeth, other classes are also visiting Shakespeare’s texts. Students in Ayres Stiles-Hall’s class are reading Twelfth Night, which in contrast, is a romantic comedy. In a way, it’s relieving to be reading Shakespeare in freshman year, because it gives students a basic familiarity with his work. This is important since many people believe his work is of the highest quality and certainly has popularity. However, other classes haven’t been given the same experience so far this year.

Christopher Choy ’27, a ninth grader currently enrolled in Andrew Stevens’s English class, discussed his experience reading Frankenstein this semester: “We just finished reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and this past week has been spent preparing for a final paper on the book.” When prompted about themes and analyzing the text, he said, “We discussed themes of loneliness, science & occult, fathers & sons, romanticism, and rejection.” This book certainly has contrasting themes to those of Macbeth or Twelfth Night. However, there are also connections: the main character of Frankenstein fears being rejected which calls back to Macbeth who fears his power will be revoked and stripped from him by the people under his rule. Both characters are afraid of the people who seemingly are below them in terms of status and both desire acceptance, whether as a companion or as a king.

These books are just some examples of the separation among the English classes. Though this produces greater diversity in learning experiences within a grade, it also provides students with opportunities to learn from each other. It’s from these different experiences that we can customize our limits of knowledge, incorporating what we are willing to learn from our peers.