Classes are dynamic and student-centered. Writing is extensive at every level. All communication skills are taught and refined. The reading list is mostly classical in nature. Freshman and sophomore years are skills-oriented, and junior and senior year offer Advanced Placement (AP) opportunities.
The English curriculum in the first two years establishes a firm grounding in grammar, punctuation and sentence construction principles and practice, while also presenting literature by genre. During their junior year, students may take AP English Literature or continue with honors or college preparatory coursework in which the focus is on the central motifs of "journey" and "illusion.” As seniors, all students enroll in either AP English Literature or AP English Language, finishing their Blair career with college-level coursework designed to foster independence and intellectual ownership of the course material.
The development of students’ public speaking skills is a long-held tradition of a Blair education. In conjunction with English coursework, we hold an annual public speaking competition at both the sophomore and senior levels during the spring quarter, which is open to all students at those respective levels. There are assignments and exercises at every grade level that encourage the acquisition of effective speaking skills, including recitations, presentations and leadership story-telling initiatives.
The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Prize is awarded to those students most proficient in Shakespeare studies. This prize was established in 2004 by Dr. Alan Jeffrey, parent of Aron ’94, in memory of his mother. The prize is awarded to Blair Academy students based on an essay related to the work of William Shakespeare; the prize also supports the study of Shakespeare in the curriculum. The corresponding winning essays are published here.