Course Catalog

Please select from the list of departments to see details about Lick-Wilmerding High School course offerings. 
 

Courses and Descriptions

English

The four-year English curriculum provides students with the skills and habits of mind to read, write, and speak confidently and competently about a broad range of texts. Each year, students hone their analytical skills by drawing on class discussions and independent close readings to craft thoughtful, subtle responses to literature from around the world. A focus on the writing process and revision skills is integral to every course. Classes are discussion and activity-oriented, requiring students to become respectful of multiple perspectives, compassionate for others, and confident in expressing their ideas. All English courses are UC eligible, and all English 3 and 4 classes are designated as Honors courses.
  • Creative Writing: Creative Nonfiction and Poetry

    In this semester elective, students will sharpen their skills as writers of creative nonfiction and poetry. Students will read and workshop multiple kinds of creative nonfiction that documents the experiences of the writer (reflective essays, college application essays, poetic narratives) and the experiences of others (reportage, family stories, oral histories). Students will also read, craft and workshop multiple poems in a variety of forms. Reading models of published writing and keeping a writer’s journal will be an integral part of this course, but the focus of this class is on generating original work rather than analysis of published literature. The culminating assessment of the course is the presentation of a portfolio.

    This course is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors.

    Prerequisite: English 1

    This Spring 2023 course is UC approved. 
  • English 1

    The English 1 curriculum prepares students for the study of literature and writing at LWHS. Students practice the skills of careful reading, listening, and speaking as they encounter literature in a variety of genres. Students are also introduced to and practice the foundations of analytical writing—thesis statements, textual evidence, embedding, and analyzing text. Students construct knowledge and their understanding of their own values and perspectives as they read and write. In particular, students are asked to consider the ways in which expectations for reading and writing change in high school. Learning collaboratively is also a significant focus of class as students work in groups to construct theories, explore evidence, and ask questions.

    Prerequisite: None 

    This is a year long course. It is UC approved.
  • English 2

    The English 2 curriculum focuses on experiences and ethics in the context of world literature. Students will explore a series of core texts, reading and analyzing fiction, nonfiction, and film. The course will use essential questions to shape students’ critical thinking, discussions, and writing throughout the year. As they expand their skills for close reading literature, students learn to make thoughtful annotations, use the language of the text to make inferences, and craft interpretive questions for writing and discussion. Students frequently write analytical responses to literature, honing their skill at using relevant textual evidence and analysis to support a clear and specific main idea. Essays, creative pieces, and student led discussions allow students to explore literature in a variety of ways. Working both with their peers and teachers during writing conferences, students further build upon their revision skills.

    Prerequisite: English 1

    This is a year long course. It is UC approved. 
  • English 3 Honors

    The English 3 Honors curriculum focuses on reading and writing about literature from the United States. As students engage in careful reading and critical analysis of literature from the colonial period through the 21st century, the course develops awareness about how language and story construct American identities, both individual and communal. In particular, students advance their close reading, specifically their understanding of detail, diction, imagery, syntax, and structure. Students write in a variety of genres and continue to develop strategies for crafting sophisticated arguments supported by precise textual evidence and analysis. A focus on stylistic and grammatical clarity becomes increasingly significant in writing workshops. Both group activities and whole class discussions are central to the study of the course texts. Collaborative projects and presentations encourage students to take on greater intellectual leadership in the classroom.

    Prerequisite: English 2

    This is a year long course. It is UC approved.
  • English 4 Honors: Afrofuturism and American Popular Culture

    In this course, we will conduct literary analyses of multimedia texts, using theoretical frameworks to deepen our understanding of Afrofuturism as an imaginative re-envisioning of the past, present, and future. We will will focus on subversion, rebellion, and joy in Afrofuturistic literature, film, music, and culture, with particular attention to the ways that Afrofuturists use sci fi and speculative fiction practices to imagine a future in which Black protagonists break free of the margins and claim their space at the center of their own stories. Possible texts for this course include Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Ryan Coogler’s blockbuster Black Panther, Jordan Peele’s horror classic Get Out, Janele Monáe’s e-motion picture Dirty Computer, stories from NK Jemisin’s How Long ’til Black Future Month?, and Ytasha Womack’s Afrofuturism: The World Of Black Sci-Fi And Fantasy Culture. As a multiracial queer teacher who benefits from white privilege, I cannot claim any firsthand knowledge of Black experiences in the Americas. What I can offer is an intersectional approach to literature and film that interrogates the white colonial gaze and focuses instead on centering Black voices, visions, and re-visions of the future.

    Prerequisites: English 3H

    This Spring 2023 course is UC approved.
  • English 4 Honors: Contagion and Regeneration; Midwives, Zombies, Vampires, and Beyond

    What is the true cost of creating a more equitable world? As human beings, what are we prepared to give up? Wealth, status, humanity? Plagues and epidemics have been devastating populations around the globe for hundreds of years. Albert Camus pointed out that plagues expose existing fractures in societies. Indeed, a times of a global health crisis as we’ve seen , the diseases of capitalism and xenophobia are as deadly and as destructive as viral loads. So what can plague narratives tell us about the values and priorities of the worlds we inhabit? In what ways do large scale outbreaks expose what’s broken and offer up opportunities to shatter traditions and reimagine new, better, more equitable standards for living? This course looks at the ways social fractures brought about by contagion appear in fiction and film. We’ll examine the ways plagues allow us to shine a light on the ugly side of who we are; we’ll explore how far we are prepared to go as humans to preserve what we have, and we’ll venture into territory that requires us to ask what we are prepared to give up in the name of creating a more just and equitable world.

    Prerequisite: English 3H

    This Fall 2022 course is UC approved.
  • English 4 Honors: Discourse of Dining

    Food, like books, can sustain and celebrate life. But also like books, food can serve as an agent and expression for hunger and loss. This course explores both the joyful and the dark sides of eating and traces how “taste” informs the various ways in which we ingest the world.

    Communities are united and divided over meals throughout many great stories. We will study how consumption and its rituals can be simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary. We will detail relationships between traditional and modern agricultural practices, tracing the histories of people, land, and (dis)connection. We will consider how the meeting of food and word (in novels, poems, short stories, essays, podcasts and the cinema) inform large social categories such as the nation, gender, race, ecology, internationalism, and family.

    Essential Questions
    How does literature enhance our sensory pleasure?
    How does literature construct our understanding of our culinary choices and culture?
    How does culture, economic status, or religion intersect with what we eat?
    How can our food choices be an act of social justice?
    In what ways is food intake more than nutrients?

    Prerequisite: English 3H

    This Fall 2022 course is UC approved.
  • English 4 Honors: Existential Shakespeare: That Is the Question

    The fundamental question of existentialism is “what gives meaning to a human life?” In this course, we will read Shakespeare’s most existential works—Hamlet, King Lear, As You Like It, and Macbeth—to try to answer it. Shakespeare’s characters experience profound existential crises, and pose themselves the core questions of our class: is “life,” as Macbeth suggests, “a tale told by an idiot”? Is “all the world,” as Jacques reflects, merely “a stage, and all the men and women merely players”? Is it even worth it, as Hamlet wonders, to bear “the whips and scorns of time” and “th’oppressor’s wrong?” Through these rich and complex plays, we will explore far-reaching topics about the human condition: anxiety, nothingness, the absurd, nihilism, authenticity, the body, freedom, alienation, and death.


    Between plays, we will also spend time exploring the racial dimensions of existentialist thought through the Black existentialists Aime Césaire, Frantz Fanon, George Lamming, and Wilson Harris—writers whose work critiques white colonialism and affirms the empowerment of Black people in the world. Through these Black existentialists, and our existentialist Shakespearen lens, we will discuss contemporary issues of injustice and inequity, especially the way our white supremacist culture radically distorts the ability for people of color “to be or not to be.”

    Prerequisites: English 3H

    This Fall 2022 course is UC approved.
  • English 4 Honors: Greek Tragedy

    This course centers on the dramatic genre known as tragedy that flourished in Athens, Greece in the 5th century BCE, a genre that remains culturally relevant and powerfully provocative to this day. Athenian tragedies rely on strong personalities and tortuous internal conflicts, yet they also invariably consider the two-way responsibilities between communities and citizens, a relationship that still engenders examination and contention. After considering these dramas first in their original context, we’ll then connect the issues they present of identity, responsibility, and justice to our lived experiences in the 21st century. Our study will consider the works of Aeschylus (The Oresteia), Sophocles (Oedipus the King, Antigone), and Euripides (Alcestis, Medea), as well as critics of those works and the tragic genre as a whole. Class activities will range from the traditionally analytical to the creative and interactive.

    Prerequisite: English 3H

    This Fall 2022 course is UC approved.
  • English 4 Honors: In Pursuit of Dignity: Literary Voices Speaking about Carceral Culture

    Michelle Alexander argues that with mass incarceration “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” Former Black Panther and prison abolitionist Angela Y. Davis argues that: “[h]omelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.”

    This seminar will explore the American system of mass criminalization from the inside out. We will begin by confronting some obvious question: why does the American system of punishment disproportionately target people of color? What has been the impact on the more than 70 million Americans who bear the marks of this legal system? Who does this system of punishment serve? What values does it sustain and what forms of oppression does it perpetuate?

    Throughout the course, we will center the voices and experiences of those directly impacted by carceral culture. We will listen to podcasts, read first-person narratives, and hopefully meet with speakers who have been released back into their communities, as well as those working to change the experiences of impacted people. Throughout, we will frame our work through an antiracist lens to affirm the dignity and humanity of all people, embrace historical truths (including the untold truths), and develop a critical consciousness around how dominant narratives dominate and perpetuate marginalization.*

    *Adapted from The Center for AntiRacist Education

    Prerequisite: English 3H

    This Spring 2023 course is UC approved.
  • English 4 Honors: Morrison and Faulkner

    Toni Morrison was working-class, Black, and Midwestern; William Faulkner was wealthy, white, and Southern. And yet both writers are so often mentioned in the same breath. Perhaps it is because both writers explore—in visceral, toe-curling detail—the moral failings of America’s tragic history, the origins of whiteness, and the horrific ways in which racism disfigures not only its victim but also its perpetrator.

    In a country that works hard to conceal its past, Morrison and Faulkner draw our attention to the specters that haunt our troubled history and continue to haunt our troubled present. In this course, we will read a combination of Beloved, Sula, The Sound and the Fury, and As I Lay Dying—four of the greatest novels ever written—in order to better see, name, and challenge the nightmare that lurks in America’s soil.

    Prerequisite: English 3H

    This Spring 2023 course is UC approved.
  • English 4 Honors: Myths and Legends

    Why are we drawn to tales of gods and heroes? What do our stories about the creation of the world and its eventual end reveal about our hopes, fears, and values? This course will examine myths, legends, and folk tales from a variety of cultures and time periods in search of answers to these questions. Close and broad reading of primary texts, background material, and theoretical texts will help us make sense of the patterns, overlaps, and divergences we find in our comparative study of world mythologies. Writing assignments will hone your analytical as well as creative skills, and the semester will culminate in a student-defined research project related to the course contents.

    Prerequisite: English 3

    This Spring 2023 course is UC approved. 
  • English 4 Honors: Visions of Excess

    Why do we crave likes and reposts? Are we really fulfilled by the promises of being seen on Instagram? Why do we need to follow a trend on Tik Tok? Vision of Excess explores the relationship between democracy, capitalism, and selfhood. As the West has transitioned from the Industrial Revolution to the contemporary age of social media, we have become entrenched in hyper individualism at the cost of our communities, environment, and personal well being. Our degree of wealth and material consumption has not created happiness but rather incited higher levels of status anxiety and depression. The course will examine texts as tools for creating, perpetuating, and destroying the accepted standards of modern life, standards that are ambiguously dangerous simply because of their unquestioned adoption in our daily lives. We will grapple with capitalism as it has impacted gender roles, morality, and ideas of pleasure ,happiness, balance and purpose. By investigating multiple modes of self expression as a response to the shifting landscapes of popular and global culture, students will be able to read and critically respond to a variety of advanced writers and forms appropriate for college level coursework.

    Essential Questions
    How does modern self-representation shift in view of the emerging technologies of the 20th century? What is the relationship between status anxiety and self-hood in view of these changes?
    What is the social role of art in the 20th century? How does our consumption and analysis of literature/art reveal political agendas? How do literature and art reject or support political agendas?
    What is the role of war in the development of identity and community in the modern age?

    Prerequisites: English 3H

    This Spring 2023 course is UC approved.
  • English 4 Honors: Visions of the Future: Leaving Earth

    In this course, we will study the work of contemporary 21st century authors attempting to envision and re-envision the past, present, and future of humanity and the way that time folds back on itself when we try to envision the future without reckoning with the damage caused by the past. The two novels we’ll be reading–Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts and Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land–examine the ways in which the distant past might affect the future of humanity with stories of humans who have left the planet earth in search of new horizons. We will contemplate how the historical past has huge consequences on the shape of our futures, with a particular focus on climate change, systemic racism and its echoes through American history, and the loneliness of the modern world.

    Prerequisite: English 3H

    This Fall 2022 course is UC approved.
  • Introduction to Fiction Writing

    In this semester elective, students will learn basic craft elements of fiction including plot, character, setting, fictional time, point-of-view, conflict, and dialogue; then they will experiment with these craft elements in their own stories. In addition, students will receive feedback on their stories from their peers during “workshop” and use this feedback to revise. Reading models of published fiction and keeping a journal will be integral parts of this course, but the focus of this elective will be on generating original fiction rather than analyzing published literature. The culminating assessment will be a portfolio of original fiction.

    This course is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

    Prerequite: English 1

    This Fall 2022 course is UC approved.
  • Journalism PPP

    The Journalism class offers an opportunity for students to learn and work in a professional setting as a member of the press, the vital investigative branch of democracy. Students will plan, write, edit, and design the LWHS student print publication, the Paper Tiger, and the online Paper Tiger. Students will write in depth news stories, features, profiles, reviews, and editorials; they must write for all sections of the paper—news, politics, sports, arts & leisure, science & tech, and voices. To get the story, students will work in the field and in the newsroom researching, writing, discussing, and dissecting. The course will facilitate building critical and creative thinking and writing skills, investigative reporting, interviewing, understanding and designing the impact of rhetorical techniques, photography, and page and publication design. As members of the Paper Tiger staff students collaborate to run a small company. Students will consider both the ethics of journalism and the future of different news media. Students must learn Adobe InDesign to publish the paper.

    PPP requirements for the course will be satisfied by students identifying, investigating, and writing one long-form feature that highlights the work of a Bay Area community organization or a vital community issue. This feature requires research, investigation, and interviews off campus. The article will be published in the Paper Tiger and possibly in an external news outlet. In addition, students must write one op-ed and submit it for consideration, for example, to Youth Radio or KQED Perspectives.

    The course is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Students may enroll in Journalism multiple times. The instructor’s signature is required on the course signup sheet. Current Paper Tiger editors (and students selected as editors for the 2018–19 school year) will be given priority in scheduling, regardless of grade level. This policy is meant to maintain continuity for the newspaper staff.

    (Add/Drop at the semester by permission of instructor only.)

    Prerequisite: English 1

    This yearlong course is UC approved and fulfills the PPP requirement for juniors and seniors.

Faculty




Lick-Wilmerding High School

755 Ocean Avenue | San Francisco, CA 94112 | 415.333.4021
A private school with public purpose, Lick-Wilmerding High School develops the head, heart, and hands of highly motivated students from all walks of life, inspiring them to become lifelong learners who contribute to the world with confidence and compassion.