Finding God in High School


by Janet Holm McHenry

Finding God in high school isn’t as hard as you might think. He is actually here and there in various textbooks that students read.

I am a high school English teacher in a public school, and my American literature students have been reading about him all quarter.

We’ve been studying the foundational literature of American history under the magnifying glass of our controlling question, which is “What do we do when life isn’t fair?”

Here’s some of what we’ve read and what my students decided:

  • Puritan writer Anne Bradstreet wrote the poem “Here Follow Some Verses Upon the Burning of Our House, July 10, 1666.” While she grieved the loss of all her earthly things, she decided that her treasure in heaven was more important. My students realized that when life sucks, you can turn to your faith for support.
  • Former slave Olaudah Equino wrote “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano,” and my students read an excerpt that told of his kidnap from his family in Africa and his brutal mistreatment. He converted to Christianity, learned to read and write, bought his freedom, and then successfully advocated for the eradication of slavery in Great Britain. My students decided that to bring about racial equality, many people of faith took political action.
  • In “The Declaration of Independence,” written by Thomas Jefferson, my students read, “all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent and inalienable rights.” I was delighted when my students wrote that when life isn’t fair, we can WRITE and even put God’s name in that writing.

God is alive and well in high school…despite what some might think. He has been active in our history and in our writers’ literature over centuries. And later this year when my students read Emily Dickinson and many of the other poets, they will be finding God in those works as well.

Finding God in a high school English classroom: Anne Bradstreet’s poem “Here Follow Some Verses Upon the Burning of Our House, July 10, 1666.”

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