The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The end of an era: AS English I will be terminated

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Kailyn Holty
Currently, the AS English I curriculum includes extensive summer reading with multiple short stories and the novel “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah.

The termination of AS English I in the 2022-23 school year for incoming freshmen marks the end of an era. The English class that hundreds of Woodside students attended will come to a close as a more diverse curriculum takes its place. 

The detracking of advanced standing classes at Woodside has been an ongoing change, beginning with math and science courses. However, Woodside won’t be the first school to end this class. In 2020, Sequoia High School terminated AS English I and Menlo-Atherton followed suit in 2021. Similar to many of these schools, the Woodside English department believed all freshmen should be able to interact with each other in the same English class to build a greater community. 

“The philosophy [of Woodside], being a very diverse campus, we feel all students, unique experiences, backgrounds, and vantage points are really valuable,” AS English I and ELD III teacher Jascha Dolan said. “We want everybody in the same room to be able to share those experiences and to be able to really build that community together freshman year.”

In truth, Woodside isn’t ‘getting rid of’ AS English I, rather changing the curriculum to encompass all freshmen and eliminating the two track system. 

“In looking at that big picture, the decision was made that it would be powerful for our kids to all have a common ninth grade English experience,” Woodside Principal Karen van Putten said. 

Currently, the two track English system limits the perspectives students see on issues discussed in class. By creating a division in the English courses, students are missing out on learning from others and advancing intellectually. 

“When we start our school year, where some students are in a certain track, they often miss the voices of the others,” van Putten said. “I think that’s the beauty of Woodside, as well as going to this high school in Silicon Valley. [Students are] able to hear from the stories and experiences of a very international global socioeconomically diverse environment because those voices just make our learning experiences richer.”

With this new curriculum, it will be a blend of both AS English I and English I. While there will be some changes and additions, novels like Born a Crime and Othello will still be a primary part of the curriculum. 

“Some of the reading materials will be different,” van Putten said. “Typically our English curriculum, as having been an English teacher for many years, have titles and authors that lean toward the Western European author and male authors. We’re looking at contemporary writers as well as Shakespeare, so I’m excited about what they’re looking at.”

The goal of this new curriculum is to combine various perspectives from different authors in order to create a much more diverse course. The hopes are that students feel represented in the material that they learn. 

“One of our philosophies with the curriculum is really implementing culturally responsive teaching practices. We want diversity with authors and that’s going to be sort of the driving force behind the curriculum,” Dolan said. 

While AS English I has traditionally been a class to prepare students for more advanced English courses such as AP Language Composition and AP Literature, students will continue to be taught these valuable preparational skills in this new course.

“We’re going to differentiate the instruction to make sure that everybody gets what they need intellectually,” Dolan said. “I mean that’s just a part of teaching. You have varying skill levels in every single class and part of your job as an educator is to meet people wherever they’re at and bring them where you’d like them to be.”

Although freshmen won’t have the option of taking an advanced standing class, AS English II will remain an available course for sophomores. With creating one English tract, the hope is that more students will feel confident to take on AS English 2. 

“The goal for me is that more students will be inspired to take AS English 2. Also, [I hope more students] have the confidence to take on an advanced placement class, whether it’s AP Language Composition or AP Literature. But that first level [of English] is foundational,” van Putten said. 

Other classes at Woodside will also undergo a change in curriculum. The sophomore history option, which is currently Modern European History, will be changing to World History. 

“[There will be a shift in examining] our true global history and putting it into context of many stories that haven’t been told,” van Putten said. “Many voices have not been shared. So, in the World History curriculum, sophomore year we’re offering AP World History [and regular World History track].”

With these changes to the curriculum at Woodside, the hope is that more students feel they have access to all courses as they begin their high school career. 

“The whole detracting conversation around the country is making sure that all of our students when they come in as ninth graders have access to everything that Woodside offers,” van Putten said.

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About the Contributor
Kailyn Holty, Co-Editor in Chief
Kailyn Holty is a junior and third-year journalist. She enjoys writing about campus life, current events, and cultural pieces. She hopes to raise awareness of student issues through her writing. In her free time, she likes playing tennis, hiking, completing jigsaw puzzles, and reading.

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