HAMMOND (AP) — "Et tu, Brute?"
These are the final words Shakespeare's Julius Caesar utters as he is being stabbed to death, having recognized his friend and protege Brutus among the assassins.
"Julius Caesar" is the topic in Carolyn McGuire's English class as students probe the nature of power, manipulation and betrayal. The students had an opportunity to talk about those themes and exchange ideas on what they have seen on television or in real life that brings those themes to mind.
Sophomore Addison Barnhill told The Times he watches "Empire," an American musical drama TV series that debuted on Fox in January. The show centers on a hip hop music and entertainment company, Empire Enterprises, and the struggle among family members for control of the company.
"There's a lot of betrayal on 'Empire,'" he said. "They are friends and family, but everyone is hiding some sort of secret. It relates to "Julius Caesar" because Caesar and Brutus were friends. Cassius wanted to get Brutus on his side and Brutus was confused; do I betray my best friend and kill him, or what do I do?"
Sophomore Robert Aguirre came from a totally different perspective. He turned heads in the classroom when he said the play reminded him of an episode of "SpongeBob." ''It's the episode where SpongeBob has big arms so he can fit in with everybody else," Aguirre said.
"MuscleBob BuffPants" is an episode from season one. In this episode, SpongeBob orders fake arms with inflatable muscles to impress another character named Sandy.
"They didn't believe SpongeBob and they didn't believe Julius Caesar, and they wanted him out of power. It just clicked in my head," Aguirre said.
McGuire said other students related it to SpongeBob, some seeing him as weak and others as strong. "It was because of how they value strength. They read the characters differently based on their own set of values and experiences. It yielded some pretty interesting discussions," she said.
McGuire and fellow English teacher Kevin Burgun capped the discussion by allowing students to think about the scene where Caesar is betrayed and killed, and again review the themes of power, betrayal and manipulation.
"The students were able to act out the scene in small groups, using the effect and dialogue," she said.
"Each presentation was different in the way the characters were placed and the class had to decipher the theme being portrayed. At the end of the unit, we will analyze the funeral speeches. What is being said and how it is being said and how that creates meaning."
BNI Principal Craig Stafford said McGuire is creative and able to bring out the best in students.
"She is creative with her curriculum and passionate about her career, and is able to connect her class content to all learning styles," he said.
"She is willing to put in the extra time to meet students where they are, and take them to high levels. Carolyn also is involved in many Bishop Noll initiatives outside of the classroom. Her caring attitude and passion for teaching are contagious to all of those who work with and learn from her. Carolyn understands that she is also part of our larger mission of fortifying the minds, bodies and souls of the students at Noll."