English

English classes are lively at Fountain Valley School, balancing studies in American and world literature and a mix of classics, contemporary, avant-garde texts and ideas. The writing process is emphasized at all levels and includes organization, effective argument, mechanics and creativity.  
 
Classes are taught seminar-style, employing Socratic dialog and Harkness Table methods. The program offers several interdisciplinary classes that combine English with the history or science departments, for example, Colorado Ecology: Reading Landscape Through the Poet and Naturalist Lens.

For the extroverts among us, a perennial favorite is the school-wide English Department Theater Festival where students act out scenes from Shakespeare and other playwrights, followed by a medieval-style, utensil-free dinner.
 
And if you'd like to showcase your skills as an orator and represent FVS, the school participates in the annual Poetry Out Loud contest. In recent years, two Fountain Valley students have won the state competition and competed at nationals in Washington, D.C. The English Department also sponsors a city-wide poetry contest in Colorado Springs each year.
 

List of 13 items.

  • English I: World Literature

    In English I, students experience an introduction to academic discourse; they learn to read and question critically, think and write analytically, and discuss texts and themes communally. First‑year students also study formal elements of grammar and syntax and the Latin and Greek building blocks of English vocabulary. This course functions on an interdisciplinary level with Global Studies (History), to form a Freshman Humanities curriculum that seeks to make explicit links between cultures and literature. Readings invite students to investigate communities around the globe, and the diverse locations and readings are connected through several common themes: a journey to self‑knowledge and maturity, cultural connections and conflicts, and consideration of outsiders. Through discussions about our texts and themes, students should come to a deeper understanding of their own culture in a global context.
  • English II: Place and Perspective

    While reading classic and modern texts, sophomores will question and discuss how geography and natural settings help establish a sense of place. This consideration of place will lead into the sophomore experience while on WIP (Western Immersion Program). As the students examine the ways FVS and the Western setting help create perspective, they will also expand outward to consider what it means to have a global sense of place. In examining the importance of nature and setting, the students build on the critical thinking skills they learn in their freshman year by continuing to analytically read, write, and discuss various novels, short stories, poems, and essays. Students will also sharpen their vocabulary and grammar skills.
  • Honors English II: Place and Perspective

    Prerequisite: Grade of A‑ or higher in English I, excellent effort grades, teacher recommendation.
    While reading classic and modern texts, sophomores will question and discuss how geography and natural settings help establish a sense of place. This consideration of place will lead into the sophomore experience while on WIP (Western Immersion Program). As the students examine the ways FVS and the Western setting help create perspective, they will also expand outward to consider what it means to have a global sense of place. In examining the importance of nature and setting, the students build on the critical thinking skills they learn in their freshman year by continuing to analytically read, write, and discuss various novels, short stories, poems, and essays. Students will also sharpen their vocabulary and grammar skills. This honors class reads more texts and writes more papers than the other English II.
  • English III – American Literature: Journeys and Self-Discovery

    American Literature will seek to answer the question “What is America?” as we journey through places and themes that have formed the foundation of our nation’s narrative. Structured around a geographic exploration of the country, the course will explore themes of race, gender, class, success, the trauma of war, and religion in settings that range from New York City to rural Wyoming. Students will encounter main characters who are wealthy socialites, working‑class immigrants, war veterans, ranch girls, Native Americans, and emancipated slaves. Like Americans today, their identities are rarely simple; instead, they are defined at the intersection of the characters’ heritage, race, class, creed, and career. Students will walk away from this course with an enhanced understanding of the diversity of America as a landscape, a culture, and a national identity, complicating their view of what “America” is.
  • English III: Advanced English Language and Composition

    Prerequisite: Grade of A‑ or higher in English II, demonstrated an aptitude for writing and comfortable writing under time pressure, teacher recommendation.
    Students enrolled in this course have the option of taking the corresponding AP exam in May. The objective of this writing‑based course is to meet the goals established by the College Board course “AP English Language and Composition,” a course that mirrors first‑year writing classes at the college level. To meet these goals, we will read and write various types of essays: personal pieces, argumentative writings about contemporary socio‑political issues, essays in response to literary works, and also a contemporary issues research paper. Many of our writings will involve learning how to properly incorporate outside sources and, to prepare for the AP Exam, will be in‑class, timed pieces. To coincide with FVS’s Junior‑year study of American History and Literature, nearly all of our readings will come from American authors, and our argumentative writings will be focused on contemporary American social issues, policy debates, and politics. (*FYI: What differentiates this course from the Senior‑year AP Literature course is the emphasis on writing, particularly on reading and writing argumentative, non‑fiction essays.)
  • English IV: Advanced English Literature and Composition

    Prerequisite: Grade of A‑ or higher in English III or a B+ or above in Advanced English Language and Composition, demonstrated aptitude for reading, analyzing, and discussing challenging prose, demonstrated ability to write under time pressure, teacher recommendation.
    Students enrolled in this course have the option of taking the corresponding AP exam in May. Advanced English Literature is a college‑level seminar course that encourages highly motivated readers and writers to explore challenging and diverse literary offerings while preparing for the Advanced Placement exam in English Literature. Advanced English Literature begins with a review of the summer reading texts, then focuses on important authors and poets from around the world: Shakespeare, Woolf, Erdrich, Faulkner, Roy, Garcia Marquez, Chekhov, and Sophocles among others. These works are complemented and contextualized by historical study and referencing literary theory, from Aristotle to Derrida. Readings and discussions are organized around each author's contribution to the course’s essential question(s): what does it mean to tell a story – to tell our own story – and how does the manner in which stories are told indicate their content. In‑class essays complement formal out‑of‑class essays and are a significant part of students' work in composition. Additionally, students ought to expect to be leaders of the classroom environment and will do so formally through presentations and Socratic Seminars, among other activities.
  • English IV: Beyond Aladdin: Storytelling, Islam, and the Arab World

    Over the last few decades in the United States, conversations and stories emerging out of Central Asia and the Middle East are laced with themes of war, images of terror, and generalizations about Islam that offer a myopic view of a region with a poetic history and storytelling culture. In this course, we will use literature and poetry to challenge modern stories and stereotypes of Islam and the Arab world, particularly how these two are not one and the same. Works by authors and poets such as Hafez, Rumi, Khaled Hosseini, Raja’a Alem, among others will guide our exploration of the rich tradition of writing and storytelling in one of the world’s most dynamic and prolific religious cultures.
  • English IV: Colorado Ecology: Reading Landscape Through the Poet and Naturalist Lens

    Note: This class may count as a half credit for science OR English. A scientist and a writer must both sharpen their powers of observation and hone their ability to share their insights.
    While learning about the local environment, its flora and fauna, students will read poetry and prose about wilderness in general and Colorado in particular. Butterflies, stink bugs, and Northern Flickers will mix with haikus, sonnets, and essays as we explore the relationship between the individual and the landscape. Students will write various types of essays, from the personal to the objective, as well as poetry. Students will also make a collection of bugs from our local prairie ecosystem and learn the typical bird residents of our campus. A two‑day backpack trip may be part of the course and gives students a direct experience of walking through Colorado’s ecological life‑zones, from foothills through the alpine. Readings will be drawn from Thoreau’s Walden, Williams’ Refuge, Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, and Galvin’s The Meadow, along with poetry from Wordsworth, Frost, Berry, Snyder, and Atwood. Students will also sample some current natural history writers like Annie Dillard, David Duncan and Terry Tempest Williams.
  • English IV: Creative Writing

    What do you have to say? You are a senior and full of opinions, beliefs, and reflections. What will be your voice? This class will explore various voices and modes of writing, from non‑fiction to fiction to journalism to poetry. We will read diverse books, such as The Practice of Creative Writing, I’m A Stranger Here Myself (Bill Bryson), The Solace of Open Spaces (Gretel Ehrlich), and On Writing (Stephen King) while we write in different styles. The focus, in the end, will be on your writing and discovering your own voice.
  • English IV: Gender, Sexuality, and Literature

    How do we write about, talk about, and construct our versions of gender and sexuality? Literature offers us a lens through which to explore how these conversations have evolved across communities and generations. In this course, we will read contemporary texts (novels, graphic memoirs, poetry, short stories) and view films that explore how we define and assign meaning to gender and explore forms of desire and sexuality. We will discuss how we navigate these topics in personal and societal realms, exploring how these stories change depending on race, religion, and other manifestations of difference that influence our perceptions of gender and sexuality norms. We will investigate the dominant Western understandings of the nuclear family, masculinity, femininity, romantic love, and gender identity in pursuit of developing a more nuanced knowledge of self, sexuality, and society. Texts may include: This is How You Lose Her (Diaz, Junot), Fun Home (Bechdel, Allison), “Brokeback Mountain” (Proulx, Annie), Giovanni’s Room (Baldwin, James), among others.
  • English IV: Writing From Within

    This class focuses on crafting the college essay and other types of nonfiction writing. Students read various modes and styles—from the profile to the argumentative, from the investigative to the memoir. Students often write short pieces and read from the works of John McPhee, David Foster Wallace, Diane Ackerman, E.B. White, and Simon Rich, among others. Students receive a subscription to the New Yorker magazine. This class may take field trips to provide material for these modes of writing.
  • ESL: English 2

    This two-credit course prepares the intermediate English as a Second Language student to successfully analyze written material and compose analytical and descriptive essays. The student reads several short novels and selected short stories each term, develops writing skills from the cohesive paragraph to the complete composition, and continuously increases vocabulary. The course has a balanced emphasis between expressive and receptive language. Speaking and listening skills are honed while investigating cultural similarities and differences between the United States and the student’s own country.
  • ESL: English 3

    This class prepares advanced English language learners to participate in mainstream English courses. Students refine their English writing skills by practicing narrative, descriptive, and expository writing. Students will also expand their English vocabulary through verbal and written responses, and by reading and discussing works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Works studied are chosen with a view toward engaging student interest, as well as in alignment with mainstream sophomore and junior English course content in order to prepare students to fully participate in mainstream English after they successfully complete this course's requirements.

List of 9 members.

  • Photo of David Reynolds

    David Reynolds 

    Chair of English Department, English Faculty
    (719) 391-5336
  • Photo of Torey Davie

    Torey Davie 

    English Faculty, South Perry House Director
    (719) 391-5339
  • Photo of David Racine

    David Racine 

    Dean of Students, English Faculty
    (719) 391-5233
  • Photo of John Litchenberg

    John Litchenberg 

    Education
  • Photo of Josh Alford

    Josh Alford 

    English Faculty, Outdoor Education Coach, Climbing Coach
    (719) 391-5324
  • Photo of Jeff Lamson

    Jeff Lamson 

    English Faculty; History Faculty
    (719) 391-5375
  • Photo of Caroline Santinelli

    Caroline Santinelli 

    English Faculty, Varsity Girls Swimming Head Coach
    (719) 391-5334
  • Photo of Dorothy Strehl

    Dorothy Strehl 

    Director of the Learning Center, ESL Faculty
    (719) 391-5355
  • Photo of Kathleen Czop

    Kathleen Czop 

    International Student Adviser, History Faculty, ESL Faculty
    (719) 391-5333
FVS is a private, college-preparatory, co-ed, day and boarding school for grades 9-12 in Colorado Springs.
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