SHS introducing Irish Literature to Program of Studies

ELA refreshes course offerings

Lauren Chiasson and Halle McCormack

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According to U.S. Census data, nearly 48% of Scituate residents list their primary ancestry as being Irish. The proclaimed, “Irish Riviera,” the town has no shortage of Irish festivities, including the annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade.

Since Scituate is considered “the most Irish town in America,” one might think Scituate High School would offer a course granting students the opportunity to learn more about one of the most prominent cultures within their community. Before this year, there hasn’t been any course offerings about Irish literature. AP Language and Composition teacher Cathy Hall has led the push for such a class, and it is now included in the 2020-2021 program of studies. 

Students who take the new Irish literature course will read a range of pieces from prominent Irish authors. In the future, Hall would like to incorporate a field trip into the class–traveling to Ireland to visit the homes of those authors, along with other activities.

Currently, a Scituate-West Cork, Ireland, Exchange is being planned. Scituate and Cork signed a “Sister City” agreement in 2016, and have cultivated cultural ties ever since. Although the class and the exchange are not related, Hall highlighted that it is a “nice connection” to the course. She also recognized it as motivation for the high school to include Irish Lit in the course offerings, since she has been pushing for the course since she came to SHS six years ago. 

“I think there was an effort this year to refresh the ELA curriculum, specifically for the senior-selectives,” Hall says. Another course offered for next year is Diverse Voices in Literature, which will engage students in cultures from around the world, providing another experience for students to broaden their knowledge of diverse authors.

Hall appreciates any class that provides students the opportunity to “understand cultures on a deeper level.” She hopes SHS introduces a more diverse course selection, as she highlighted that culturally-based courses will “make a big difference” understanding history. A class such as Irish Literature, which will offer real-world experience, is an exciting new opportunity for students. Hall hopes to see more course offerings to meet students’ needs and interests.

Only time will tell if the administration will be more willing to add classes that feature diversity within the community. Learning about the Irish ancestry of Scituate while studying Irish literature and writers represents a jumping-off point for the future.