Freshman Building Adds Humanities Lab

Lucy Schaefer and Jenna Shultz

History and English are two core classes that have much in common. Many novels covered in the freshman English curriculum are based on historical events. Therefore, the  Lakota West Freshman building decided to capitalize on this commonality. The Humanities Lab, created and instituted by Lakota and taught by Mrs. Bella and Mrs. Parrett, is a combined CP class teaching both History and English concurrently with one another. Mrs. Bella, the English teacher co-piloting this course, stated “I was excited just because I feel like it makes a lot of sense to combine the two [classes].”

The Humanities Lab takes place in the Freshman Building’s zero and first periods and consists of forty students. In English class, the students are currently reading Night by Elie Wiesel. In History class, the students are learning about the Holocaust and WWII. Since Night is a book set during the Holocaust, students such as Anna Wells feel that, by combining the two, “it meshes really well.” 


They are getting more of the subtle things with the combination… the first test I gave, I had never had such high scores,” says Mrs. Parrett, the history teacher co-piloting the course. During an observation of this class, most of the students were intensely focused during the lecture and took their own notes. They were willing to listen and learn, and appeared to have a deeper understanding when their notes related back to the book that they were reading. 


However, the students feel that the class is more one-sided. Anna feels that one subject dominates the other: “I feel like we do a lot more with history and we don’t do much with English.” Another student, Carter Sams, feels the same way: the class is  “Definitely more history-based.”


Nevertheless, the teachers were both initially and are currently very enthusiastic about teaching the Humanities Lab. “I was excited. Normally I don’t have time to teach historical books on top of the curriculum,” Mrs. Parrett said. Mrs. Bella has a similar opinion: “As an English teacher, it is hard to relate history back [ to English], so for me, it is nice to have the history teacher [and the course] to relate it to” Mrs. Bella added.


A day in the Humanities Lab begins with students independently reading for fifteen minutes“to get the class back into loving reading.” After reading, they jump straight into their history lesson, with either notes or an historical video. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the class breaks into stations to learn more about that day’s topic. On the remaining days, they read more of their English book and relate it back to the history they learned that day.


The co-pilots of this course were very excited to be given the opportunity to run this class and look forward to teaching it next year. Mrs. Bella says, “I would like to see it offered as an honors class as well. I think the honors kids would really enjoy it.” Mrs. Bella told us that the class currently is a CP level class combining CP World History and CP English 9. Making the lab an honors-level class would combine Honors English 9 and Honors American History. Also, there currently is only one class bell for the Humanities Lab, but “I would like to offer two sections of the class, so that [there are] not only just forty people taking it,” said Mrs. Parrett. Having more than one bell in the class gives students more time to understand the topics covered in greater depth than before.

It was exciting for us to sit in this class and witness this new course. Out of all the interesting topics that the teachers covered, we learned quite a bit as well. Although there are some slight disadvantages, according to some students, to combining the two classes, we could see that it was something worth creating.