Maranatha Students Experience Scarlet Letter

Published : Monday, November 18, 2013 | 10:34 PM

Maranatha High School students were able to experience what it means to be Hester Prynne in the classic fiction “Scarlet Letter” by wearing a scarlet sign for two days at school under a project by the English Department.

Prynne is a young woman who was found guilty of committing adultery and was ordered to wear a scarlet “A” on her clothes at all times as a sign of shame.

The department said the project enabled the students to display a struggle or aspect of their identity through the signs they wore.

“While reading this in class, we discussed the idea of judgment and condemnation that many people feel entitled to convey to others,” the department said in a statement. “All the while, we neglect to understand that by doing this we often reject the opportunity to help, and instead, hinder the progress of those individuals’ spiritual life.”

“We are notorious for pointing out the iniquity of others, telling ourselves that because we do not participate in whatever sin they might struggle with, that we are somehow better than them or less of a sinner than they are. As individuals we allow our sins and struggles, outward or hidden, to identify us, hindering our own ability to forgive, reconcile and move forward in our faith,” the statement added.

The students are asked to identify what struggle they are undergoing or what identity they wish to display on their “scarlet letter.” They were required to tell their instructor what they will put on their signs before the project began.

“This way faculty can make sure things that are too personal, or inappropriate, or even things that should be referred to counseling, are filtered. It also gives an initial connecting point, and specifics for us to pray about for the students as they take this journey,” said English Department Chair Abby Barrantes.

The department said the goal of the project is to help the students reflect on how they could have participated in the condemnation of classmates for their sins. The class spent the second day of the activity reflecting on the assignment.

“I always share my scarlet letter with them to demonstrate solidarity and talk about how I found my identity in Christ,” Barrantes said. “It is an amazing day, with students sharing, community being built, reconciliation and forgiveness happening.”

The students also went to the amphitheater and placed their ‘scarlet letter’ on the cross and took a new sign given by the teachers that states “Set Free.”

“As a community, we are able to learn how to hold one another accountable, as well as how to support one another in our struggles. Through this assignment, the hope is that students would experience the transformation that comes with placing our identity in Christ alone,” the school said in a statement.

Maranatha High School is a college preparatory Christian school located at 169 South Saint John Ave. For more information, call (626) 817-4000 or visit

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