The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

Ms. Day speaks to Hockaday students as well as other students in the Dallas area as part of her role to involve Hockaday students in the community and lead them to fulfill their purpose.
A day with Ms. Day
Sarah Moskowitz and Melinda Hu May 19, 2024

How did you get your start in social impact? Day: Out of college, I decided to do a year in a program called The Jesuit Volunteer Corps. It...

Lone Star Royalty Q&A
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Lang Cooper and Mary Bradley Sutherland May 17, 2024

What initially interested you in beauty pageants? Roberts: When I was six I joined the Miss America Organization. This program is for girls...

Branching Out During Break
Jessica Boll, Web Editor in Chief • May 16, 2024

Instead of lazily lounging by the pool this summer, taking advantage of an academic break is the best usage of the months when we don't have...

Senior Splash Day
Senior Splash Day
May 13, 2024

Daisies Conquer Statistics

Hockaday faculty and staff members stress the importance of writing skills in school and for the future.

Sounds of students stress­ing about college ap­plications and junior research papers fill the hallways at this time of year. However, juniors and seniors often forget how well Hocka­day has prepared them in terms of writing.

According to The Atlantic Magazine, the Nation’s Report Card, which records results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 1 percent of twelfth grade stu­dents in the U.S. in 2007 could write a “sophisticated, well-or­ganized essay.”

According to Independent Educational Consultant and certified College Counselor Marilyn Kaufman, there is a reason for this low percentage.

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“I can certainly believe the statistics by The Nation’s Re­port Card on only 1% of all se­niors being able to write a co­hesive essay. In some schools, curriculum goals do not always include personal essay writing and the emphasis has been on bringing up mathematical and science skills, as well as tech­nology, rather than on devel­oping personal essay writing skills,” she said.

According to The Pro­gram for International Stu­dent Assessment, in 2012, the United States ranked behind 29 nations and jurisdictions for math and behind 22 other education systems in science. Thus, the United States intro­duced many STEM programs into high schools, despite the importance of writing.

However, Hockaday English teacher and Visiting Scholars Liason Janet Bilhartz shares a different view. She questions the validity of this statistic and said that there is another factor to consider when you look at these statis­tics and test scores.

“When you compare our schools to those of the rest of the world, if you screen out poverty—if you screen out the kids who are really poor, our schools are doing as well as schools anywhere in the world. America’s problem is poverty,” Bilhartz said.

Regardless, “writing is one of the most important ways we communicate,“ Bil­hartz said. “I think that Hock­aday prepares you for writing because your teacher has time to grade papers.”

It takes Bilhartz, on the average, at least 30 minutes to grade a normal-length essay. She has about 75 stu­dents, which totals to al­most 40 hours of grading per assignment.

Senior Jane Gu at­tended public school be­fore coming to Hockaday in ninth grade. “I think teachers at Hockaday re­ally want to look at every aspect of your paper,” she said. “In public school, they always have a lot of students, so they can’t put in that kind of time [to grade papers],” Gu said.

Even before writing an essay for English class, Hockaday teachers offer a variety of preparation help. “We always have writing sessions. Class pe­riods before, we talk about what the teacher is looking for in the paper and what makes good writing and what doesn’t,” Gu said. Teachers even of­fer documents, tips and examples to help students with their essays.

Kaufman recog­nizes how important writing is to students beyond the classroom. “The emphasis has not been on helping stu­dents to become better writers, however, there are many ex­ceptional English teachers who recognize the importance of knowing how to teach the art of writing, and these students have a definite advantage over everyone else when applying to colleges,” Kaufman said.

Director of College Coun­seling Carol Wasden believes that Hockaday students are prepared when it comes to writing college applications. “You’re expected to write at a very high level of analysis and thought and that comes through in [the college admis­sion] process,” Wasden said.

Most colleges require a long essay consisting of 650 words. However, a personal essay differs from the typical analytical or argumentative es­says written in English classes.

“It is oftentimes challeng­ing to write about one’s self, as few of us are used to revealing our innermost thoughts and exposing our vulnerability,” Kaufman said. “Writing per­sonal essays requires matu­rity and self-awareness as well as experience

ence in knowing how to write in a way that is engaging and memorable, so personal essay writing is significantly more demanding on the majority of young adults than analytical writing in my opinion.”

Although college admis­sions typically ask for person­al essays and experiences and Hockaday students write more argumentative and analytical essays, “those skills in gener­al creative writing can make your other writing livelier,” Bilhartz said.

However, a person’s ability to write extends farther from English class in high school or in college. Writing is an impor­tant life skill.

“In virtually any job, you have to present yourself to others and that might be in writing and that might be in speaking, but the skills will come through there,” Bilhartz said. “[Writing] is the way we convey our thoughts to the out­side world, so it is really impor­tant that we do it well.”

– Sonya Xu

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