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Should Mastering The Essay Be Required?

  Summer was winding down. Trips to the beach were over. Textbooks had been shipped. After spending several hours at the mall attempting to find dress code pants, I arrived home to a letter adorned with the Christian Brothers seal lounging on my desk, reminding me that junior year was only days away. Within the […]

Mastering Essay

 

Summer was winding down. Trips to the beach were over. Textbooks had been shipped. After spending several hours at the mall attempting to find dress code pants, I arrived home to a letter adorned with the Christian Brothers seal lounging on my desk, reminding me that junior year was only days away. Within the envelope was a class schedule, and like many of my fellow juniors, a semester of Mastering the Essay with Mrs. Maureen Wanket occupied one of the seven slots.

Most juniors will find themselves in Mastering the Essay for a semester, yet each year, a handful of students will never see the required course on their schedule. When I first received my schedule, Mastering the Essay was absent from the flimsy sheet of paper. My sophomore year, I passed the challenge exam given by the CB English Department one early Thursday morning.

But I never quite knew how I wrote the essay that a committee of teachers labeled as “passing.” I wanted to take the class to gain confidence in my writing abilities, and more importantly, I wanted to be able to consciously write quality essays each time I sat down to write.

So I called Assistant Principal Mr. David Desmond, and after several conversations, Mastering the Essay with Mrs. Wanket became my A Set for the spring semester.

When I approached Talon Moderator Mr. Dave Anderson ’07 about my next article, I noticed a list of those who had most recently passed the Mastering the Essay test. I was once on that list, and after taking the class, I believe such a list shouldn’t exist. Thus, this article is solely dedicated to the following question: should every CB student be required to take a semester of Mastering the Essay?

Mastering the Essay is labeled as a five-credit semester course touches upon persuasive, narrative, analytical, and expository writing. Despite its title, the course teaches more than just essays. Students are required to keep a daily journal and best of all — at least in my opinion —  learn how to effectively argue a topic with academic sources to back up their claims.

Some students may view Mastering the Essay as merely an obstacle to taking another, preferred class. CB commonly offers it over summer to allow greater flexibility. CB’s schedule master Mr. Desmond believes the course should remain a requirement despite the potential schedule conflicts.

“The course has proven to help students with their writing,” he says. “They are well prepared when they go to college, and that’s because we have a strong English curriculum.”

Curious to see if a CB alumni believes that Mastering the Essay benefited them in college, I called up Maliah Ta Haroldson ’16, a freshman at Long Beach State University.

“I don’t think Mastering the Essay benefited me,” she commented. “I only practiced writing [that] I already knew.”

After her junior year, Maliah did go on to take AP Language & Composition and passed the AP exam at the end of the year.

Ayana Watkins (’17) agrees that the class shouldn’t be mandatory. She currently is enrolled in AP Lang and passed out of Mastering the Essay. She does believe the idea of the class is intriguing and important, but she does not believe it should be required for honors students.

“It could very easily negatively affect GPA, and if you are able to pass the test, you shouldn’t have to take the class.”

Ayana believes her fellow AP Lang students who took Mastering the Wssay are not doing any better or any worse than her in class. But I still believe Mastering the Essay should be required, and I’m not the only one.

“Mastering the Essay can only help students,” comments Mrs. Wanket.

She typically teaches a class of Mastering the Essay each year in addition to her AP Lang classes. She believes it should be required for everyone, especially those who would like to go into AP Lang.

“Students who took Mastering the Essay typically do much better, especially in the first semester,” she claims.

As I have noticed from personal experience, Mastering the Essay is essentially a less intense version of the first semester of AP Lang. While I can’t fault anyone who doesn’t want to take it, I would at least encourage them to just take a break and enjoy a semester in a class that allows students to explore several genres of writing.

“Mastering the Essay is a good time. I don’t regret taking it,” states Joseph Nazareno (’17).

He did not pass out of Mastering the Essay and was actually in my A set, Joseph believes that Mastering the Essay was essential in his success on the SAT and ACT essay writing portion. But he also enjoyed taking a class that allowed him a bit of a break from his difficult schedule.

“And of course, I had Mrs. Wanket, so there really was no reason not to take Mastering the Essay,” he added.

While I believe Mastering the Essay should be required, I have to admit, I came to CB my sophomore year barely knowing how to write an essay. Mastering the Essay prepared me for success in AP Lang and, most importantly, gave me confidence that I could write an essay — and a good one at that. Having a class purely devoted to essays is essential for future success, especially at college, where a majority of the writing is essays. I wanted to learn how to write a good essay before college, and Mrs. Wanket helped me do just that.

Take a moment to consider your own academic journey and let the Talon know if you believe Mastering the Essay should be required for all CB students.

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