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BISHOP McNAMARA HIGH SCHOOLA Catholic, Holy Cross, Coeducational, College Preparatory School for Grades 9-12


Our Mission in the English Department is to provide comprehensive instruction for college-bound students who will:


♦ Think clearly and confidently

♦ Communicate effectively in writing and speech

♦ Recognize the power and beauty of the written word

♦ Have an enduring appreciation for the meaning of literature in their lives

The English department at Bishop McNamara High School ensures that students pursue a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, with an emphasis on the writing, reading and critical thinking skills needed to succeed in college and beyond. Honors and Advanced Placement courses are offered for high-achieving students.

Our elective courses offer entry points for specialized study in the humanities. Students in our journalism program have won awards in regional competitions, published work in publications such as The Washington Post and WUSA Channel 9 News, and attended the selective Urban Journalism Workshop sponsored by The Washington Post.


About Our Faculty

Ms Wierenga teaching English to BMHS students

Ms. Wierenga, English Department Chair/Teacher

The Faculty of the English Department includes a team of dedicated professional educators with a wealth of teaching experience on local, national, and international levels. Several teachers are BMHS alumni, a testament to our program's tradition of excellence.

Our literature and professional degrees come from universities such as The Catholic University of America, Columbia University's Teachers College, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, Grand Valley State University,  Marquette University, Mount St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Salisbury University, Towson University, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Mississippi, University of Tennessee, West Virginia University, and San Diego State University.

We are passionate about professional development. Department members have received grants or studied through institutions such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, The College Board, the Touchstones Discussion Project, the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard, Harvard University, the Penn Center on St. Helena Island, SC, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Mississippi Teaching Corps.  

Most importantly, we take profound enjoyment in our students and in the work we do.

See our Faculty Directory for more about the English Department Faculty members, their profiles, and contact information.

English Faculty Directory

Works & Authors

A sample of works and authors taught by the English department are:

  • Romeo & Juliet, Othello, Macbeth, and Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Odyssey by Homer
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  • Paradise Lost by Milton
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Fences by August Wilson
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • Poetry by Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot
  • Short fiction by Sherman Alexie, Edgar Allen Poe, Karel Čapek, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Yasunari Kawabata
  • Essays and speeches by Amy Tan, Elie Wiesel, Firoozeh Dumas, George Orwell, and Martin Luther King, Jr.


All Students must complete Four Credits in English


Literature & Composition
Honors Literature & Composition

Students from English Class at Bishop McNamara visit NBC Studios

Bishop McNamara students visit NBC Studios


Honors Rhetoric


American Literature
A.P. Language and Composition


British Literature
AP English Language & Composition


Creative Writing
Advanced Creative Writing
Journalism I
Honors Journalism 2
Honors Journalism 3
Honors Journalism 4

For full descriptions of these courses and any prerequisites,  go to

Clubs & Organizations

BMHS Mock Trial Team wins First Place in Prince George's County 

Extracurricular clubs such as Poetry Club, Yearbook Club, Mock Trial, National English Honor Society, The Stampede Newspaper, and Broadcast Journalism (WMAC) exist for those who seek further opportunities to experience writing, literature, broadcast journalism and debate.

Weekly sessions of The National English Honor Society provide after-school writing assistance to any student who seeks help.


What do Bishop McNamara students learn in their four years?

We offer a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. Freshmen begin with a broad study of literature, emphasizing short fiction, poetry, and the novel. The sophomore course features an added emphasis on non-fiction and persuasive writing. Juniors read classics of American literature, and seniors study the foundations of British literature. Vocabulary is studied all four years, and our seniors complete a thesis project. For students who want to go beyond the basics, we offer electives in topics such as journalism and creative writing.

Do you offer honors and Advanced Placement courses?

Yes, our department offers honors courses and every AP English course possible. Freshmen are placed into honors through standardized test scores. Sophomores, juniors and seniors are placed according to teacher recommendation, which is made after evaluating each student's work in the prior year. Students in AP courses study an enhanced curriculum and may receive college credit for their performance on national examinations administered by the College Board. For more information on A

What is the average class size for English classes?

The average class size for English classes is 22.5.