The books being piloted at Inglemoor [from left to right] are “Kitchen,” “Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line,” “All My Rage,” “October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard,” “They Called Us Ene-
my,” “The Hate U Give,” “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” and “Homegoing.”
The books being piloted at Inglemoor [from left to right] are “Kitchen,” “Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line,” “All My Rage,” “October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard,” “They Called Us Ene- my,” “The Hate U Give,” “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” and “Homegoing.”
Shirene Khandpur (she/her)

Step aside Shakespeare, there are new books in town

Currently, Inglemoor’s English curriculum has little diverse representation across all classes. According to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Inglemoor has a 48.8% minority enrollment. Among the list of approved books in Northshore School District’s high school curriculum, 57.9% feature a white male protagonist and 42.1% of the authors are white males. None of the books have any LGBTQ+ representation. This leaves a lot of students underrepresented in the curriculum. Several English classes are piloting more inclusive novels before adding them into the curriculum to include more perspectives and representation.

The district’s English Language Arts Novel Study Committee has led this piloting process. They started by identifying issues with novels currently taught in the English curriculum. They then worked to select a list of more inclusive and modern books to submit for approval by the NSD Curriculum Materials Adoption Committee. The high school committee consists of 17 members from NSD, including IB English teacher and Co-Head of Inglemoor’s English department Elizabeth Lund (she/her) and English teacher and librarian Julie Westerbeck (she/her). Other members include teachers, including multilingual and Special Education teachers, as well as librarians, from across the district. 

According to Lund, teachers want to teach newer books with more contemporary authors that represent larger populations, especially considering many of the books being taught are the same ones that have been read since the school opened in the 1960s. 

CMAC has a lengthy approval process, and adopting new books into the district takes time and effort. There are multiple steps for approving new curriculums and novels. According to the NSD website, a teacher must first contact a CMAC support specialist and then complete a CMAC sponsor form that needs to be reviewed, which can take four to six weeks. Then, three teachers from different schools, one principal and five CMAC members, must review the novel. After that, the teacher has to present the novel to the rest of the CMAC to explain the material’s intended use and answer any questions they may have. Finally, if CMAC approves it, the novel and curriculum are submitted to the school board for approval and implementation in the classroom. 

In the last five years, only the novel “The Thing Around Your Neck,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has been approved for English classes at Inglemoor, and the process took around six months. The lengthy and intimidating process can discourage teachers from adding new books to the curriculum. But now, working together across the district and submitting several books at once provides more support, increasing the chances of getting more of them approved.

 “Students should be able to recognize themselves in the books we’re reading in class, and students should get to see the world through somebody else’s perspective. Kids of color have been doing that for a long time because they’ve been reading books by white authors. But white kids have not been doing that because they haven’t had the opportunity to read these diverse authors. And I think it’s important that both have that same opportunity,” said Lund.

Most new books being piloted are more inclusive than the ones previously taught: 78.3% of the proposed books have a non-white protagonist, 30.4% include struggles with mental health and 30.4% have LGBTQ+ representation. 

“The significance is that their representation is much more extensive than what we’ve had in our novel offerings in the past, so we’re hoping we can have good conversations about different backgrounds and diverse representation,” said Niki Smith (she/her), the Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction for NSD.

At Inglemoor, some of the books representing different races and cultural experiences include “Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line” by Deepa Anappara, a book about a young boy trying to find missing children in the slums of India, and “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, which explores police brutality in the US.

Senior Alex Robertson (he/they)’s IB English 12 class recently read “October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard,” a novel written in verse by Lesléa Newman about Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in 1998 because he was gay. The book was written as a tribute to him. It’s one of the five books being piloted in the district with LGBTQ+ representation. 

“The project we had right before this was a play from the 1800s about aristocracy. So this is a nice change, something that I can relate to a little more as a gay person. And it’s good for even cishet people to see as well, to be aware that hate crimes are such a prevailing issue,” said Robertson. (Cishet stands for cisgender and heterosexual).

English teacher Izzy Garcia (he/him) is piloting “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, a coming-of-age story with LGBTQ+ representation. He’s noticed that his students have approached the book with an open mind and are willing to learn more about the characters and their experiences. 

“I’m glad that we’re making a push to be able to add more diverse books to our curriculum. I think it’s important for students of all backgrounds to feel represented in English class, especially in books. So, if we’re able to do that, I think that’s great. I think it’s pretty awesome that we’re trying to at least make this push for everybody,” said Garcia.

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About the Contributors
Sarah Krug (she/her)
Sophomore Sarah Krug is a reporter in the 2022-2023 school year. This is her first year in Nordic News. She is excited to learn how to write interesting and impactful articles for people to enjoy. By doing this, she is also hoping to improve her own writing skills and explore the world of journalism. Outside of Nordic, Sarah plays trombone in the school band, participates in various STEM activities, participates in Model UN and dances.
Shirene Khandpur (she/her)
Shirene Khandpur (she/her), Opinion Editor
Returning junior Shirene Khandpur is back for her second year at Nordic as Opinion Editor. She can’t wait to apply new skills while learning more in Nordic this year. Aside from Nordic, she’s also a passionate executive member of Model UN and a full IB student. Outside of school, she can be found scribbling in her giant sketchbook, making amateur zines or trying to pick up a new fiber arts hobby, but that’s when she’s not binge-listening to her favorite albums or taking walks with her dog. Her goals in Nordic for the 2023-24 school year are to bring fresh ideas and new approaches to writing, while also improving her photography skills and creating more engaging articles.

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