English Department Removes Senior Seminar


In spite of popular opinion, the English Department has made the executive decision to review Young Adult & Popular Fiction as an option for the English senior seminars.

English Department Chair Janet Bilhartz said that the novels read in the course are easy enough to be read and appreciated in students’ free time.

“There is really not a lot to analyze in them,” Bilhartz said.

The majority of the department was in agreement.

The students, however, disagree.

Senior Emily Routman, who took the class in the fall under the guise of Upper School English teacher Claire Cothren, said that the curriculum was heavily related to universal issues, such as corruption in the justice system and mental illness, which made it more interesting to Routman.

 “I was a lot more enthusiastic to read books in Pop Fic than from books I’ve read in other classes,” Routman said.

The curriculum for this past year, taught by Cothren and English teacher Sarah Traphagen, included five novels, one of which was read by students individually.

“The course covered much more than just novels to read at the beach,” Traphagen said.

Both teachers incorporated additional articles about the issues in their respective novels, which were used to channel debate amongst the students. Class discussions also broached of the ethics of banning books in high schools.

Senior Molly Waring, a student in Traphagen’s class, stresses the importance of YA novels to her generation.

“We learned about how influential YA Fiction is to our generation and how to apply what we learn to our lives,” she said.

Bilhartz, however, explains that one of the deciding factors that the department considered when reviewing the course was how colleges would perceive the class on a student’s transcript.

“Because Hockaday is a very academic-oriented college preparatory school, it was not necessary to take school time to read books that are so self-evident, “ Bilhartz said. “This was not suitable to be the last English class you take at Hockaday.”

Even though this course will no longer be an option for seniors to take, the English Department plans to incorporate young adult fiction into other senior seminars.

– Emily Fuller – Video Editor –