ELA Expands

English department adding two new classes for next school year.


Marci Townsend

English teacher Chris Orban works at his desk during class. Orban may be one of the teachers for South’s new Film and Composition course.

It’s January, and not only does that mean the start of the second semester, but also the time to sign up for classes.

It can be difficult choosing which classes to add to your roster, but maybe it’ll make it easier to let you know that there will be two new English classes on the list. 

The first class being added is Words on Fire which is going to be taught by Nikki Daniels. She said Words on Fire is centered around the recent controversy of banned books, but while a lot of English classes choose the books for you, Words on Fire will allow you to explore a free range of books. 

“It is going to be choice,” said Daniels. “There are so many banned books so a lot of people will be able to pick their own books…some people might want to read some older banned books and sort of see why they’ve been banned…”

However, for students wondering what types of books will be up for choice, Daniels said she’s considering Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson as some of the choices. 

Additionally, if you’re worried that you’ll be forced to read a book you don’t like, you shouldn’t. First off, Daniels said students in the class will never be forced to read something.

“There will never be required reading. There will always be a choice between about four books,” Daniels said.

She said the class will also match the workload of other English classes.

“[It will be] pretty comparisant to other elective classes,” she said. 

Daniels also addressed the type of students she sees taking her class.

“Kids who like to debate things and who are open-minded,” she said. “Kids who like to read books that are banned.” 

One student who expressed interest in Words on Fire was junior Sylvene Farooq.

“Banned books have always been interesting to me and talking about why they’re banned,” she said.

Farooq said she has never had Daniels as a teacher before, but said that Farenheight 451 and 1984 are some books she’d like to read in the class. 

Furthermore, another class being added to the curriculum is Film and Composition. The teacher isn’t for sure decided yet, but Chris Orban is one of the choices for very obvious reasons. 

“[Watching movies] is one of the things in class I do anyway,” he said. “English is about more than reading and writing.”

Orban also said that Film and Composition is already a class that is offered at other Parkway high schools, including North High. 

Orban said he wasn’t totally sure what was going to be shown in the class, but he said it would be “arranged.” He said that there will be “some old stuff, some new stuff. There will be different genres like comedy, horror and action.” He wants students to see how “movies change over time.” 

Additionally, junior Noah Adou had some thoughts about what he would like to see in Mr. Orban’s class.

“American Psycho and Batman,” he said.

Adou explained a trend on TikTok where teenage boys would relate themselves to Patrick Bateman and Bruce Wayne and how he would like to see movies where he can relate to the characters. He also said he would like to see “Bladerunner” because “futuristic movies are really good.” 

However, there are also obstacles that the teachers are going to have to face when creating these classes. Back in August, Missouri passed a law that stated that. “School officials found guilty of providing sexually explicit materials to students can face up to a year in prison and or a $2,000 fine.” This means that teachers can’t show or give students materials that contain any sexual nudity, and while this may seem like a good idea, this actually poses a very difficult challenge to South teachers. A lot of the books that students read or the movies they watch have nudity in them. 

“There are some books we removed from our shelves because of that law,” Daniels said. “We are thinking that kids could bring in their own books.” 

Orban said that the law is “something to avoid and that we’ll have to figure out.” 

Pushback from parents and students could also pose a risk to these new classes.

“I don’t know [if there will be pushback],” Daniels said. “We will be very upfront in the policy sheet about the books we will be reading. Parents might have a problem, but I think we could justify it.” 

In addition, Daniels addressed other details about the classes that students might be wondering about.

“It’s going to be up to Ms. Perkins and Ms. Pappas Muyco, but the cap [of students allowed in the class] is going to be around 15 to 18 but it depends,” Daniels said.

The classes are both a semester-long and will be offered to grades 10 through 12.