Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
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The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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New updates to reading curriculum

In early June, five representatives from the Latinx club brought a proposal to the administration to adjust the existing English 11 curriculum titled “American Voices” to include works from Latinx authors. The proposal, which was written by those students, included suggestions of books and short stories as potential additions.

As of now, the curriculum includes works that represent many minorities in the United States, such as Black Americans, members of the LGBTQ+ community and war veterans. According to the proposal, Latinx representation was missing from the overall narrative of the “American Voice.”

Senior and Co-Vice President of the Latinx club Jonathan Gould was one of the students that contributed to writing the proposal and presenting it to the administration. Gould values his Hispanic heritage and wants it to be represented in the new curriculum.

“Hispanic immigrants are a very large part of this country and our culture, so we thought, ‘is the American voice really complete without that perspective?’” Gould said.

Gould, along with other members of the club and Dr. Silvia Kurlat Ares, their faculty adviser, presented their proposal to High School Principal and Upper School Campus Head Dr. Lisa Vardi and English Department Chair Dr. Thomas Worden. After being informed of the proposal, Vardi welcomed the criticism and allowed the students to present their arguments directly to the administration.

“They made such a compelling case as to how important it is for their identity formation and to be seen in the curriculum,” Vardi said. “They encouraged us and brought to our attention the deficit that we might have had and helped to advocate for change, and I think that’s incredible.”

The administration and the English department acknowledged the lack of a Latinx voice in the 11th grade curriculum, but the real challenge, according to Worden, was adding new content into the already limited school year with a myriad of books, short stories and plays.

“Curriculum development is really, really hard,” Worden said. “Story after story I encountered, I thought, ‘I could teach this in college, but not in [high school].’ For one reason or another, most content isn’t going to work.”

As of now, one new short story called “Night at Nonna’s” by Ana Castillo has been integrated into the curriculum. Although the change is a first step in the right direction, Worden is on the lookout for new pieces of content that will have a better fit in 11th grade English courses.

“It takes a tremendous amount of courage for them to be able to frame their concerns in a way that people could hear and respond to,” Worden said. “All parties came to the table and did a really good job delivering the message and receiving it, and I was really impressed.”

Gould reflected on the experiences of drafting a proposal and presenting it positively.

“I feel accomplished and a sense of pride for both the work that I put in but also for the club,” Gould said. “It’s empowering to know that I’ve had an impact at such a high level on the school and our community.”

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About the Contributor
Jonah Beinart
Jonah Beinart, Features Editor
Breaking news: there’s a new features editor in town, and he’s ready to continue his work on The Lion’s Tale. Jonah is a section editor on the Bohr Franklin Science Journal and writes for his neighborhood newspaper, the Lakelands Leader. He is also an avid runner and participates in cross-country and track throughout the year. He hopes that he can round out high school with a great year on the publication. His favorite poem is the Jabberwocky  

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