From the Desk of the English Chair – Sravani Sen-Das P’16

We began the year with a visit from acclaimed author Andre Dubus; our seniors had read his gritty memoir, Townie, over the summer. Dubus spoke to the community in Chapel and then went on to address our students—from the Second to the Fifth Forms—throughout the day, reminding them of the importance of words and writing and, through his compelling oratory, urging them to “come alive” by being true to themselves as writers.

The conversations he generated carried on in our classrooms and spilled over into the next week and then the next. Perhaps Dubus could not have had a more receptive audience, for writing is at the very heart of our English program. Right from the start of their journey at Groton, students learn to wrestle with words, exploring writing through both creative and analytical essays. The teaching of writing is not limited to the classroom alone: on any given day in the English wing, long after classes are over, it is not uncommon to see a teacher and student, heads bent together, deep in conversation about a paper.

The culmination of this journey is the Expository Writing class all seniors take in the fall. At the end of the last term, as my colleagues and I shared our delight at some of the honest writing that came out of our classes, I was reminded of the importance of the work we do. Surely, even as we teach our students to recognize good literature and writing, we are teaching them to know themselves and the world they will assume on leaving the Circle.

This spring, the writer Tobias Wolf is going to be our Prize Day speaker. I cannot think of a better beginning and ending to our year—bookended by two writers who, through their candid writing, have helped us in our mission to create authentic writers.

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