Expanding the Classroom: English

Every day, CJ teachers are finding ways to expand the classroom for the benefit of students and colleagues. Through class trips, co-curricular competitions and clubs, guest presentations, professional development opportunities and more, faculty and staff are broadening horizons and pushing boundaries on the educational experience.

Take a closer look at what the English department is doing:

Contests present a challenging way for students to creatively take what they’ve learned in class and use those skills to more fully express themselves. A myriad of these opportunities, both internally and externally, are presented by the department's faculty members to CJ students and area youngsters alike. While the results are often less important than what can be learned in the process, here’s a look at how some of these different competitions have shaped up so far this school year:

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards: Five students earned regional recognition for their submissions in early February.
Poetry Out Loud recitation contest: School-wide winner Rachel Strahorn ‘14 repeated as champion and placed fourth in the state competition this March.
Max May Memorial Holocaust Writing Contest: CJ students swept the top three places in the high school division and two honorable mention spots. Students were recognized at a Yom Hashoah observance in April.
Sinclair Community College Creative Writing Contest: Jasiris Tapia ‘13 took first place in the poetry category and Laura Bullock ‘15 took first in the short story category in this area-wide high school contest. The girls received cash prizes in April.
In addition, teacher Jim Brooks hosts his own in-house writing contest and also collaborates with area Catholic elementary schools each year to host competitions for students in grades 7-8 and 5-6. Winners and their teachers are honored at two separate Writing Awards ceremonies in the spring. Brooks also reaches out to young students and fellow educators by taking his creative writing classes on teaching field trips to two area schools, hosting a youth summer writing camp, and organizing an idea-sharing workshop for junior high teachers.

Department chair Molly Bardine has been leading the charge to make assignments and class projects engaging and relevant beyond the context of the classroom. In March, she and teacher Greg Mueller attended the Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (OCTELA) conference in Columbus with fellow educators from around the state. There, Bardine was invited to present her research and case study on how to integrate today’s technology with the time-tested senior research paper. As part of this presentation, Bardine shared how students taking her upper-level Writing and Research course were tasked with creating Web pages to correspond with their final papers on global issues (find links to the students’ work). Bardine’s innovative teaching technique was the focus of a story in the spring issue of Vision and her presentation was summarized in the spring OCTELA newsletter.

Bardine has also been working in concert with Kelli Kinear, director of ministry and service, and Sr. Nicole Trahan, religion teacher, to lead the implementation of a new Senior Capstone Project. This cross-curricular initiative will be the focus of presentations at this year’s Sr. Stang Symposium on Thursday, May 2. This event is open to the public and begins at 6:30 p.m. in the CJ auditorium.

And just recently, AP students put the finishing touches on their fun “And the Oscar Goes to...” class project. Groups were tasked with writing proposals to Universal Studios for a production of Shakespeare’s 1590’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Below, watch a "south-of-the-border" style interpretation of a scene from Act III!

Three annual English offerings in the course catalog include stipulations that students produce a publication for the school community: Graphic Communications, Print Media and Creative Writing. The former two courses are taught by Greg Mueller and result in a yearly iteration of the CJ yearbook and monthly issues of the official student newspaper, The Ludlow Street Journal. New this year, the Journal is designed in a larger 11-by-17 inch format and printed on actual newsprint.

Students taking Creative Writing with Jim Brooks sponsor and produce In Our Minds, a highly anticipated anthology of student writing and artwork. Brooks said the class has also recently been “given the go-ahead” to produce and sell a Hinky-Pinky book of rhymes, which is expected to be released in November 2013.

WATCH:  And the Oscar Goes to... "Midsummer Night's Dream in Mexico"