Writing Program Overview

Our Approach

Frederick Buechner tells us that “The magic of words is that they have power to do more than convey meaning; not only do they have the power to make things clear, they make things happen.” Williamsburg‘s high school writing courses strive to “make things happen” by teaching students to harness the power of language. Classes are taught twice per week and invite active student participation through discussion and application exercises. Our writing program is designed to serve students from a broad range of skill levels. Courses are multi-layered to include an emphasis in Language Arts and rhetorical analysis. Academic writing is taught in companionship with speech, debate, creative writing, and 21st-century communication skills.

Williamsburg freshman doing homework

In our writing courses, students master the ability to write that they’ll need for assignments in other classes and in life.

Our Classic writing course (Writing & Rhetoric A/B) deeply engages students who don’t consider themselves to be “writers.” The Classic course teaches communication skills within a framework of themed units that speak to students’ inherent passions and interests. Students enrolled in this course have some basic writing skills in place but need to practice intermediate skills such as developing a voice, performing research, constructing essays, and polishing grammar and spelling.

Our Honors writing course (Writing & Rhetoric – Honors A/B) is designed for students who already have basic research, essay construction, and grammar skills to develop more sophisticated writing skills. Students evaluate and analyze their own writing style to design personalized projects that strengthen rhetorical skills. Novels, short stories, speeches, and more are critically analyzed allowing students to apply such techniques within their own work. The course rhythm is faster and more rigorous than the Classic course.

Students register for the course they believe best suits their needs, and during the first few weeks of class, mentors will assess each student’s skill level to confirm that they are in the right course. Most students complete Writing & Rhetoric Classic or Honors in ninth grade, and completing one of these courses is required for graduation.

Students who want more writing practice beyond 9th grade should take our Journalism course, which is open to high school students of all ages, helps students understand the role journalism plays in our culture and gives students the opportunity to work on our school newspaper, The Burger Gazette. Students who test out of our 9th-grade writing courses on the placement assessment can take Journalism to satisfy their required credit of writing.

Courses Recommended Grade Credit Delivery Format Versions Prerequisites
Journalism 1 9th (Freshman), 10th (Sophomore), 11th (Junior), 12th (Senior) 0.5 Live Classic None - Any middle school or high school writing course
Journalism 2 9th (Freshman), 10th (Sophomore), 11th (Junior), 12th (Senior) 0.5 Live Classic Journalism 1 - (ideally)
Writing & Rhetoric A 9th (Freshman) 0.5 Live Classic None - **
Writing & Rhetoric A (Honors) 9th (Freshman) 0.5 Live Classic None - **
Writing & Rhetoric B 9th (Freshman) 0.5 Live Classic Writing & Rhetoric A
Writing & Rhetoric B (Honors) 9th (Freshman) 0.5 Live Classic Writing & Rhetoric A (Honors)