Bible Literacy Project News
The Orange Leader
High school course teaches 'The Bible and its influence'
Special to The Leader
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Students in “The Bible and its
Influence” class at West Orange–Stark High School are quick to tell you
that the class isn’t a religious one.
“In church you focus on the religious aspect of the Bible. In here, we
look at the people who wrote the Bible and the broad ideas associated
with it,” said Brittany Villadsen, a WO-S senior.
The students then take those ideas and look at how they influence and
impact the world today.
reads aloud from the Bible during a discussion in “The Bible and
its Influence” class at WO-S High School.
The students have found that Bible references are everywhere and are
very much a part of the current American culture, as well as others.
References abound in the music world, as well as in art, literature,
movies and even current election and military campaigns.
The Bible and its Influence instructor Gerald Brignac said the class
aims to examine the whole picture and incorporates literature of the
time and of today; biographies of the authors of the Bible as well as
the study of the individuals written about; the history of the Biblical
time and current issue’s histories; as well as the geography of the past
and present. Students also are required to keep a journal of creative
Later this year, students will also be required to complete a book study
of “Losing Moses on the Freeway,” a book that examines the 10
commandments and how they affect our world today.
“We try to keep everything in here very academic. We don’t really talk
about individual beliefs. We do reference culture. If the students do
not understand the culture of the Biblical times it is difficult to
apply to the movements in our country and current times,” Brignac said.
Additionally, the class looks at various Bible translations and how and
why they differ.
The year long class, which started in the fall, presents information to
students in a chronological manner. However, before the study of Genesis
ever began, students spent their first week of school discussing the
United States Constitution and how the class could and would be
addressed in the public education system.
The students say they have enjoyed all of the elements the class has
incorporated: the library and internet research, listening to various
types of music which have included a performance of Placido Domingo in
the opera Samson and Delilah, as well as Gregorian chants performed by
Spanish monks; and having discussions regarding literary allusions,
traditions, and even human nature.
Students also research elements or themes of the Bible and then are
required to present the information to the class.
Brignac says teaching this new course has been exciting and challenging.
“The state has TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) for the class
and the criterion for completion is very real,” he said.
The students enrolled in the class say that their friends who are not
enrolled are very curious about it.
“This class is like a mystery,” Abbie Brooks, a senior, said.
In turn, she and other students in the class are encouraging friends to
The Bible and its Influence is utilized in public schools in California,
Oregon and the state of Washington. The West Orange – Cove Board of
Trustees approved the addition of the course for WO-S High School
students in the spring of 2007.
Currently only seniors are enrolled in the class. However, the class is
offered as a Social Studies Special Topics elective to juniors and
“As more and more students learn about the class, we expect that
enrollment in the course will increase,” WO-S High School Principal Mike