THIS IS MUNSTER: Writing on the wall

Charles Iverson, Guest Columnist

If I would have said that last part to my eighth grade self, there is no way he’d believe me.

I’m sure it’s true for almost anyone that the most dreaded aspect of going to school is the whole learning part. Still, I’ve found that it isn’t all bad. Throughout elementary and middle school, I had found certain aspects of math, science, and history that I could enjoy, but the distaste I had for English was not so easily overcome. What even was there to enjoy? You read books you’ve either never heard of or never planned on reading and then you write a one-thousand word essay about the author’s rhetorical choices. That’s at least what my eighth grade self thought.

Going into high school, I was very prejudiced against English class. Whether it was the essays we wrote or the incredibly boring books we read, I hated practically everything we did in my middle school language arts classes. I felt as if I had essentially learned nothing, except for some Greek and Latin roots that would only come in handy if I’m ever a contestant on Jeopardy, so of course I wasn’t looking forward to high school English at all.

Honors English 9 changed everything for me though. For the first time ever, I felt like I was actually gaining something from my English class. More importantly, I genuinely enjoyed that class. From analyzing films to reading really good books—even if some of them were old and impossible to understand without Spark Notes—there was so much to love. For the first time ever, I felt that I was being exposed to rich literature. These books were far different from the terribly dull books we’d read in middle school.

Throughout the next few years, I continued to look forward to my English classes. In Honors English 10, I began to learn to analyze literature on a new level through in-depth class discussions led by Mr. Barnes. This skill was deepened and refined when I took AP Literature the subsequent year through the essays I had to write on a weekly basis. When Mrs. Barnes first told my AP Literature class that we would have to be writing weekly essays, I freaked out. Now I see that it was totally worth it for what I’ve gained from doing so.

In fact, one of the things I enjoyed most about my English classes was the writing. I never particularly cared much for writing an academic paper, but when I’m allowed to let my imagination run wild, it’s hard to stop. When Mrs. Barnes assigned a short story writing project to my ninth grade class, I remember asking her if my group could go beyond the word limit because the constraint didn’t permit us to squeeze all of our ideas onto the pages. Taking Mr. Boruff’s creative writing class during my junior year was one of the best decisions I made in high school because my mind was truly free to tell almost any story it wanted to tell.

This academic year, I haven’t had that same level of creative freedom in my writing; however, taking AP Composition has definitely improved my writing style. My previous English teachers may have taught me how to form ideas, but Mr. Stepnoski has taught me how to convey them in a well-structured essay. As a whole, the English department has without a doubt played the largest role in helping me to discover my path in life, so I would like to send a huge thank you to Mrs. Barnes, Mr. Barnes, Mr. Boruff, and Mr. Stepnoski (and I don’t care if it makes me sound like a teacher’s pet). You all are the reason why I’m majoring in creative writing next year. If I would have said that last part to my eighth grade self, there is no way he’d believe me.