So you want to take… CP Literature?


Wren Bulawin

At first glance, CP Literature is just your average high school class, complete with demotivated seniors and busy-work. But behind its stereotypical façade, students are given the unique opportunity to delve into historical classics, practice all forms of writing, and even pen their own tales.

Wren Bulawin, Open Canvas, Assistant Features Editor

When students imagine the average, run-of-the-mill high school class, their minds probably conjure up the image of a college-preparatory (CP) class, complete with uninterested students slouched over their desks, never-ending lectures, and piles upon piles of busy-work. So it comes as no surprise that, of the three options offered to those looking to complete their fourth year of English credits, CP Literature is the closest match to a stereotypical high school English course. However, when surrounded by two polar extremes—ERWC, a laid-back, rhetoric-based course that does not focus on fiction, and AP Literature, a course that does so with college rigor—CP Literature stands out as the Goldilocks of English classes, striking the middle ground between laid-back and literature-focused. 

CP Literature, formally known as “English 12 CP” or simply “CP Lit” among seniors, is your typical Common Core course that focuses mainly on both fiction and non-fiction texts from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Taught by Mr. Michael Rodriguez and Mr. Andrew Cedergren, the course hones in on mastering the four key skills required to succeed in higher education and the working world—reading, writing, speaking, and presenting—by assigning students a text and asking them to present their analysis to the class through essays, presentations, research projects, and narratives. Additionally, unlike ERWC or AP Literature, which tend to focus on mastering one genre of writing, CP Literature focuses on mastering all three: narrative, informal, and argumentative writing. Like all twelvth-grade English courses, this class is only available to seniors, and simply counts towards fulfilling the final English graduation requirement.

To those familiar with the CP and Honors English curriculum, CP Literature maintains many of the same aspects from previous years, allowing students to easily adjust to the curriculum’s standards. As a Common Core-based class, the course follows Pearson’s MyPerspectives curriculum; as such, students taking the course will be given the MyPerspectives: British and World Literature workbook, in which they will have access to their readings and assignments. It is this very workbook that allows this class to stand out among the others; while ERWC focuses on non-fiction texts, and AP Literature on both classical and contemporary fiction, CP Literature focuses on both classical non-fiction and fiction. As such, current seniors taking the class, while still finding it relatively simple, tend to rate the curriculum a six out of ten in difficulty due to its focus on flowery Old-English dialects and Shakespearean works. 

“All of our readings are from the book, [and] a lot of it’s Old English. So that can be hard to understand,” said senior and current CP Literature student Laura Jackson. “Sometimes the language is really complicated, and it can be hard to break down the meaning. So it takes quite a bit of time to analyze.”

Additionally, unlike ERWC or AP Literature, CP Literature focuses less on mastering formal writing skills, but rather encourages students to unleash their creative minds through open-ended storytelling and free-form writing. Of the three senior English classes, it is the only one in which narrative writing is explicitly stated in the curriculum, which may come as a pleasant surprise for those wanting to flex their worldbuilding and creative writing muscles. 

“We’ve been working on this narrative for a while,” said Nick Miyasato, senior and current CP Literature student. “It’s very open ended. But what I’m doing is a short story. My friends are doing poems. [The assignment] gives you the freedom to choose what you want to do.”

However, as a college-prep course, the class atmosphere unfortunately tends to attract groups of students who are not as academically motivated as those in AP Literature or ERWC. While this may not apply to every student, most interviewed students describe the class atmosphere as lazy or lax, with many of their peers succumbing to senioritis. As a result, group assignments and discussions may prove to be difficult, which in turn may be demotivating to those genuinely interested in the content or those who require a more academically-competitive environment to thrive.

“I enjoy reading stuff, but I don’t think my classmates are into it,” said Flora Cao, senior and current CP Literature student. “[The hardest part of the class] depends on your group members…[most of them] don’t do work at all.”

“Most of the students don’t care. It’s a CP class, and it’s a senior class. Most of them are in there just to not really do anything,” added Miyasato. “I like English though, so I actually try. But some people in there definitely don’t try.” 

As such, the most common piece of advice college-prep seniors give to their juniors planning for the course is to stay motivated and try to stave off senioritis as much as possible—not only for their own benefit, but their peers’ as well. After all, the workload is light and the assignments are easy and straightforward, so there’s no reason not to do them.

“We usually do work daily, but it’s nothing crazy. It’s just some comprehension questions or writing a summary about the text,” said Jackson. “Honestly, most of the work is stuff that, if you just really focus, you can get it done in class. Don’t wait to do your work. Just do it at a good pace and you’ll be fine.”

Ultimately, for students looking for an easy senior year, CP Literature can help provide that with its lax classroom environment and light course load—provided students are willing to put in the work when necessary. Additionally, for students who enjoy reading and analyzing historical literature but still feel unprepared for AP’s rigor, this course serves as the perfect middle ground for lovers of classical fiction to build up their writing and critical-thinking skills before college. And due to the well-roundedness of the class, students who don’t feel like committing to one writing style all year may find their writers’ minds thriving in CP Literature.

“With the amount of freedom you have, I really enjoy it,” said Miyasato. “It’s a lot chiller than you would expect. If you want to express yourself more or be more personal with your writing, I would take it.”