Williamsville Central School District

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9-12 ELA Program

Students who progress through the District’s elementary and middle schools and who enter the Williamsville High School English Program do so with a common base of competencies developed in all classrooms in Williamsville from grades kindergarten through eight.  Ninth grade students are placed in a course of study which emphasizes the individual student’s skill development in writing, listening/speaking, and literature; the curriculum places a strong emphasis on the student’s acquisition of a standard level of language ability through practice in acceptable forms of grammar and usage in the context of the student’s own composing and reading.  The ninth grade program is intended to provide a foundation and preparation for courses in grades 10-12 which offer a balanced program of composition and literature.  Students in grades 9-12 write regularly, often daily as is recommended by New York State guidelines.

All Williamsville High School students are enrolled in programs where students are involved in small group exchanges, conferences about writing with peers and teachers, listening and speaking exercises and regular writing.  The programs adhere to the Common Core Learning Standards for New York State (available on www.engageny.org) and the New York State Curriculum. In order to earn a Regents diploma, students must pass the New York State Regents Common Core English Examination prior to graduation.

Students have two avenues for college-level coursework while enrolled in Williamsville high schools.  Adanced Placement (AP) courses--AP Language and Composition and AP Literature and Composition --are offered at all three Williamsville High Schools. In addition, Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA) courses enable students to be co-enrolled at Syracuse University, whereby students may earn college credit on a Syracuse transcript at a discounted tuition rate.  See the complete list of approved SUPA English electives below. Both AP and SUPA courses afford students opportunities to challenge themselves with college-level coursework in English.

All three high schools in the Williamsville Central School District, although they pursue the same goals and objectives through their course offerings, represent different learning environments. These environments are a function of the student, as well as the teachers and community surrounding the school. Each school offers students choices of reaching common goals; a given high school may offer senior electives, special courses electives, or the phase elective program.  The choice of structure of program is made by the building principal and English faculty working together to satisfy student needs or to provide a course patter seen as best for the school at a particular time.  All three high schools conform to the same New York State and local curriculum objectives; all three schools offer the same opportunities for individual student remediation, acceleration, and final evaluation.   
Students enrolled in a senior-level English courses must also complete a Senior Inquiry Project.  This project is a District-wide expectation in which a student investigates a topic and communicate what they have learned through a wide variety of venues.

Due to enrollment and student interest, not all courses and electives may be available each year at each high school.
The Williamsville Central 9-12 English program supports an integrated approach blending writing together with reading, speaking, listening, literature and language study.  Complex activities involving a variety of activities and steps deeply engage students in topics resulting in meaningful exchanges with peers and adults about important issues.  Learning processes are varied and recursive, not linear. Students adjust reading and writing processes according to context. Range, flexibility, connections, conventions, and independence are the indicators of student growth.  Students read, write, listen, and speak for a variety of purposes. Conventions—spelling, grammar, usage, mechanics—are explicitly taught in the context of a student’s writing and analyzed in the context of a student’s reading.  

English Graduation Requirements

In order to meet the New York State Board of Regents graduation requirements, students are required to complete four units of English and pass the English Language Arts Regents Exam (usually given during a student’s 11th grade year).


  • For English 9: successful completion of English 7 and 8
  • For English 10: successful completion of English 7, 8 9
  • For English 11: successful completion of English 7, 8, 9, 10
  • For English 12: successful completion of English 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
  • For AP Language: successful completion of English 7, 8, 9, 10
  • For AP Literature: successful completion of English 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 or AP Lang.

The Electives Program


Creative Writing is a 20-week elective that provides students the opportunity to become better writers through creative self-expression, reflection, and peer feedback.  Students produce a journal of first draft writing, responses to writers studied, patterned writing exercises to develop the writing craft, and a manuscript of unstructured writing.  Students participate in weekly class workshops designed to generate honest responses and helpful criticism.  They learn how to package and submit their work for publication outside of school. 


Film Study is a 20-week elective in which students learn and apply critical strategies for the appreciation and interpretation of the art of film. They recognize and interpret what they subconsciously see and hear while viewing films as they investigate how and why filmmakers do what they do.  Students learn how to recognize and appreciate successful cinematic choices and explain poor cinematic choices. They use film language as they explore the discourse of film discussing the business and the art of film.  Film Study enables students to be more literate in an image and sound driven society.


Speech and Communication is a 20-week elective in which students develop awareness and expertise in all components of the complex communication process—sender, receiver, message, and medium—that are essential to becoming an effective communicator.  Students gain practical experience in speaking and listening.  They learn the value of careful preparation and organization of ideas, the importance of good listening skills, the intentional use of nonverbal communication, and the importance of all types of communication in human relationships. 


Theatre is a 20-week elective in which students explore theatre arts from a historical point of view as well as the presentation of a theatre piece.  Students participate in dramatic activities, which range from appreciation of the art form to acting techniques and from examination of allied forms of motion pictures and television to mechanics of play production.  Activities range from reading, writing, and library use to character interpretation, pantomime, improvisation, and directing.  Students experience a broad range of theatre activities including audition techniques and written performance critiques. 


In a world of 24-hour news networks and instant cyber-news, it is more important than ever for each citizen to be able to discern real news from entertainment, gossip, or biased journalism.  Newspapers, news television, radio, and the Internet inform opinions, prejudices, and choices.  Journalism is a 20-week elective that strives to prepare students to be a discerning audience and responsible reporter of news.  Students read news materials and analyze style, language, diction, and ethics.  Students keep a reporter’s notebook in which they document story ideas, favorite articles, and new vocabulary.  They research background for story ideas, learn strategies for preparing a thoughtful interview, and write pieces for publication.


Media Literacy is a 20-week elective that is structured around the central question:  How does the media shape your world and the way you live in it?  Students explore various forms of media such as photographic images, advertising, television, radio, Internet broadcasting, newspapers, magazines, virtual reality, gaming, and the performing arts.  Students read, respond, analyze, produce, and evaluate these media texts as they discuss the different perspectives with regard to media’s influence on social values, political beliefs, identities, and behaviors. They apply their knowledge in a culminating experience, which demonstrates their skills by using the media techniques and terminology to create, present, and analyze a media message from a distinct point of view with a clear purpose.

**Due to enrollment and student interest, not all courses and elective may be available each year at each high school.

Advanced Placement English

All students in Advanced Placement English will take an examination administered at the local school under the auspices of the College Board Advanced Placement Program. Grading of the Advanced Placement Examination is performed by experienced English teachers from various universities and school districts who meet to establish criteria for evaluation and uniform methods for determining a final grade.

AP English Language and Composition

This course is designed to challenge, strengthen, and shape a student's writing and analytical reading skills. The focus of the work is on various prose forms and the workload is considerable. Each quarter students are to: generate a writing portfolio, analyze professionally generated writing, work on grammar skills, do focused outside reading, and publish their work. A final class publication project is the culminating activity of the course.  To facilitate preparation for AP level classes, it is recommended that students take both English 10 and English 11 prior to taking an Advanced Placement English course.

AP English Literature and Composition

The content, pace and assignments for this course are designed to be the equivalent of a first-year college Literature and Composition course. The curriculum includes many genres of classic and modern literature and poetry. Students respond to the literature with assignments that capture various forms of college-level writing. Students enrolled in the course must complete a Senior Inquiry Project and final skills (analysis and synthesis) in reading, writing, and speaking. The course is designed to develop students’ critical thinking at a collegiate level of performance.

*All AP courses in English have been approved by the College Board ®

Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA)
Through a  partnership with Syracuse University, Williamsville high schools can offer students the opportunity to enroll in SU courses for university credit.  Williamsville teachers, who have qualified through  as SU adjunct instructors, teach enhanced concurrent enrollment university courses in our high schools during the school day.  SU courses offered through SUPA intellectually challenge students, requiring them to deeply explore and thoroughly interact with college-level subject matter. Dual enrollment gives students course college credit on an official Syracurse University transcript as well as fulfilling high school graduation credit requirements.

SUPA WRT 114  Writing Culture: Introduction to Creative Nonfiction is a 20-week elective  that focuses on the genre of creative nonfiction, such as memoir, biography; the personal essay; travel, science, and food writing; and “new journalism.”  Creative nonfiction borrows elements from fiction and poetry yet still aims to tell the truth.  Students experiment with style, genre, and subject in writing studio environment and to read varied examples of contemporary creative nonfiction.  Students will craft and workshop their own creative nonfiction compositions. .  Students will be expected to read and critically reflect upon complex nonfiction texts from different genres such as science writing or new journalism, to write frequently, and to engage in researched writing projects of their own.  Students are co-enrolled at Syracuse University and WCSD.  Upon passing the course and paying the discounted tuition fee, students earn 3 credits from Syracuse University.

SUPA WRT 105 Practices of Academic Writing is a 20-week elective that teaches students strategies of critical academic writing including analysis, argument, and researched writing.  The course challenges students to understand that effective communication requires people to be aware of the complex factors that shape every rhetorical context, including issues of power, history, difference, and community; and that writing as a process involves reflection and revision.  This writing course is a site of active learning where students have responsibility for their own progress and for that of their peers.  Students write formal papers for each major unit, in addition to various informal writing assignments and a culminating portfolio. Students are co-enrolled at Syracuse University and WCSD.  Upon passing the course and paying the discounted tuition fee , students earn 3 credits from Syracuse University.

SUPA CRS 325 Presentational Speaking  is a 20-week elective that presents conceptual and practical dimensions of formal presentations in organizational settings.  Students examine analysis, adaptation, strategic arrangement, development of ideas, and verbal and nonverbal presentation skills.  This course is designed to build a solid understanding of the fundamentals of public presentations, as well as the ability to employ those skills flexibly so that a speaker can adjust selected topics and tactics to specific audiences. Students are co-enrolled at Syracuse University and WCSD.  Upon passing the course and paying the discounted tuition fee , students earn 3 credits from Syracuse University.

SUPA:  ETS 181Class and Literary Texts is a 20-week elective that explores the construction and representation of social class, especially as it affects the production and reception of literary and other cultural texts.  Concepts such as social stratification, inequality, and the relationship between wealth, privilege, and power provide critical lenses through which to read texts.  Through interpretive reading, evidence-based analysis and argumentation, and independent-inquiry, students develop a basic understanding of core concepts of social class, including stratification, inequality, privilege, capitalism, and labor. Students are co-enrolled at Syracuse University and WCSD.  Upon passing the course and paying the discounted tuition fee , students earn 3 credits from Syracuse University.

SUPA  ETS 192 Gender and Literary Texts is a 20-week elective that explores the construction and representation of ’gender,’ especially as it affects the production and reception of literary and other cultural texts.  Students examine the ways in which literature participates in the social reproduction of gender, as well as the difference that gender makes in the production and reception of literary texts.  Students will learn to analyze the ways texts construct categories of difference, including differences of gender, race, and social class. Students are co-enrolled at Syracuse University and WCSD.  Upon passing the course and paying the discounted tuition fee , students earn 3 credits from Syracuse University.

SUPA courses are available through a partnership with Syracuse University, are taught by Williamsville teachers who have been trained by SU as adjunct insructors, and meet the syllabus requirements outlined by the university.