Malden High has six different electives that students are eligible to take their senior year. Those six classes are Monsters, To Belong: The Study of Sports, The Mystery of the Mystery, Future, Dramatic Literature, and Through the Looking Glass.

English teachers, Brenden Maney and Pasquale DiBenedetto, teach the Sports class together and they both say that in this class, “the students get to explore the relationship that exists between people, societies and sports. [They] explore the role that athletes play and how [they] help shape and create change in society. [They] can explore and discuss the tribalism in sports and the use of and benefit gained from having local, and national teams. The US is littered with examples of athletes breaking down barriers to help combat segregation, racism, sexism, etc.”

Maney and English teacher Brian Wong teach the Monsters class together and Maney says it is “a way for students to see [their] fears and social maladies embodied in Monsters. [They] explore the way in which authors and societies create metaphors to explore and explain human behavior. [They are] a universal image in writing across time and culture.”

DiBenedetto and Maney both say that in both classes, “the students receive the same instruction that all seniors that are enrolled in electives receive. [They] work on reading comprehension and written expression and write their senior essay that many of the students use for college applications. [The students] all engage in the research process with a finished product.” They also mention that the difference with the elective classes is “ the lense with which [they] use to engage the human experience.”

Maney says that part of the reason why he enjoys teaching the Sports class, is because “it has been a part of [him] since [he] was a child” and says he enjoys the Monsters class because “[he] is fascinated by the symbolism and metaphor it represents.”

Maney thinks “it is important that students are able to have agency in their education.  While it may seem like a small piece of agency, it is a choice that Seniors get to make. The English department believes that the skills that need to be taught are all accessible through a number of different lenses. Students should be more involved in the choices that are made about their education and this is a small opportunity for them to do that.”

Wong says the Monsters class “revolves around fictional and real life monsters like human ones who are killers, but also about Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies. [It is] really about how these monsters represent what people are afraid of in our society and those get represented in the monsters that people create.

Wong says that an example of this is where “human beings are kind of like parasites in this world because we take away from things to keep us alive and we also fear of dying so we kind of represent that fear of not existing anymore by creating monsters that never die.”

Wong explains that there was an opening to teach this class when he started his first year last year and that it was assigned to him but says that “after teaching it both last year and this year, [he] really did enjoy it so it was something [he did not] get to choose. But because [he] got it, [he] ended up really liking it because [he] tends not to watch scary movies but it forced [him] to look at some different things and read different stories [he] never [would have] before and so [he] hopes [he] gets to teach it again.”

Wong recommends to “take the Monsters class. If you are really interested and even if you’re not into scary movies and all that, it really isn’t just about that. It’s much broader and much more interesting so give it a shot.”

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