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Sharing Ideas: Student Experiences

Lisa Lorenzi, English Comp I and II with Mary Ann Bretzlauf and Mike Latza

I took Honors English Comp. 1 with Mrs. Mary Ann Bretzlauf and Honors English Comp. 2 with Mr. Mike Latza. I'm genuinely grateful to the honors program for presenting such an opportunity. The honors classes I took served as a fulfilling experience, because I got to work among people who were more on par with me when it came to academic dedication/ambition and the level of intellect in discussions and writing assignments. In addition, both Mrs. Bretzlauf and Mike Latza seemed very sincerely interested in hearing the viewpoints of my peers and me, on subjects ranging from current events to American and foreign literature. They always appeared very happy to be teaching our particular group of people, in a more intimate setting where we could all get to know each other more personally, and truly appreciate the contrasting opinions during discussion. There were the classmates we could always count on to be a little more cynical about certain topics, the ones who were simply just brilliant writers, and the ones who had especially interesting backgrounds they were willing to share and bring to life in discussions (which were in depth yet still relaxed and comfortable.)

One project I remember that really struck me as a good learning experience was a paper we wrote in English Comp 1. Mrs. Bretzlauf asked us to "people-watch," observing (but not interacting with) strangers at a site of "public space," such as a park, a cafe, or mall. The assignment was to observe different aspects of their behavior and any kind of undertones and whatever else; and then extrapolate what we saw to the larger society- basically explain what we saw and what it suggests about modern society in general. I parked myself at Union Station and evaluated people's interactions and behavior and was able to write quite a bit about the level of personal space people demand nowadays, as well as the busy, "me-first" attitude that seems to be encouraged in modern American culture. This assignment also stimulated a long, interesting classroom debate about Americans' attitudes toward work-life, strangers, and about the way public space is used. I really enjoyed this activity and felt like I drew a lot from the discussion. It was also a pretty inventive activity, something one can expect from the honors program.

This held true when I took English Comp. 2 with Mr. Latza, which also included plenty of "out-of-the-classroom" assignments, that kept us engaged, such as poetry slams, a trip to the Daily Herald during our journalism unit, and a viewing and personal review of CLC's production of the Vagina Monologues.

The CLC honors classes I took proved to be more than just classes, but interesting, tangible experiences to remember and extract lessons and life experience from. I'd recommend the program to anyone who wants to study at a higher level and meet others with some academic vigor and ambition.