By: Brianna Carter
I walked into that cold, dark room that first morning of my senior year. The only lights that were on in the classroom was the lamp and the projector that projected our assigned seats. My seat was next to the window away from my best friend, Makenzie. Earlier, before class she told me, “It’s going to be okay. It won’t be too hard.” I didn’t believe her. When I sat down, I looked over at her. She looked back smiling at me, letting me know it was going to be okay. Only a few people were in there when I first entered the room. And, with my luck, it was all the smart people. All the smart people who knew how to write formal papers and ace every single one they wrote. I knew that I should not have taken Honors English. For the past three years, I had previously enrolled in College Prep English classes because English was not my strongest subject. I never was correctly taught how to write a formal paper.
After a long five minutes of class change, the bell rang. Mrs. Farnsworth, the Honors English VI teacher, came into the classroom. She was the teacher that everyone in school was most afraid of because of her intolerance of stupidity and her strictness in the classroom. She walked to the front of the classroom, the sound of her boots clicking with each step she took. “Get a piece of paper out.” Her voice was so stern. I got the chills as she spoke this demanding phrase. We all shuffled our books and binders around getting the demanded object out onto the desk. We were all ready to write. “Let me speak, in truth, of my life…” These will be the words that will be burned deep into my memory and that I will dread for the remaining hour and a half of the class. Mrs. Farnsworth started, as she slowly walked around the room. She read these words by memory, no book in her hands, no paper in front of her. When she finished, everyone looked at each other, she began to speak again. “Now write down what I just said.” No one budged. She then started to repeat the story. We all quickly put our pencils to our papers, trying to keep up with the words that kept flowing out of her mouth. When she finished for the second time, I started to worry, considering there was barely any words on my paper. I thought to myself that I will never pass this class. Why did I take it? I knew that I would get Mrs. Farnsworth. I knew that this class was going to be challenging for me. The feeling of fear and anxiety took over my mind and, in that moment, I started to cry. I went back to reality and stopped the tears as soon as Mrs. Farnsworth put a paper in front of me. The title read, “The Seafarer.” In italics above the title, I also read that this piece of text was an Anglo-Saxon poem. Individually, we started to analyze the lines and stanzas while making annotations. Picking out important details of the poem. With a stern voice, Mrs. Farnsworth told us, “Get into groups and discuss what you analyzed. Share ideas of what you think the theme might be.”
When she finished giving instructions, I ran over to Makenzie and started to cry again. “Brianna, It’s okay. It’s the first day of class and it will get better.” I slowly started to believe her. Makenzie and I discussed what we annotated on our papers. We came up with the theme, searching for a purpose. When it was time to go back to our seats, I felt more comfortable about this poem and the class than I did before. The class was discussing all their ideas with each other and one stuck out to me in particular: spiritual journey. I remember the irony of thinking, “This Honors English class is going to be a journey.” However, it already has been, and it was only the first day.
Overall, the Anglo-Saxon poem that was read that day had an effect on me. Just like the main character in “The Seafarer,” I went on a spiritual journey to which I found myself learning how to overcome difficult situations in my life that I never thought I was capable of. That Honors English class was holistically different than the College Prep English’s I had taken before. Honors English felt more productive and beneficial for me. The subject forced me to evaluate assignments in the classroom that I would have never began to imagine myself working through. I found myself utilizing skills outside of the classroom for my other classes as well, such as evaluation and addressing the complexity of a specific topic whether it be real-life, or another assignment for another class. In summation, Honors English VI taught me important aspects that I tend to carry with me throughout my life; how to read a story and evaluate the plot in a whole different way. It is because of this skill that I am now able to relate the meaning of a story to real-life issues.