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GAP Creative Writers ready to share their stories

In August of 2020, when I accepted my job as an English Language Arts (ELA) teacher at Global Arts Plus (GAP) Upper, I was given a semester-long Creative Writing elective. This class could take whatever shape I wanted, but I quickly learned that teaching creative writing to middle schoolers is a daunting task: the brief is broad, middle schoolers have varying interest levels in writing, and they make it known if they don’t like an activity. One student may want to write a novel, while the next struggles with writers’ block. Some students have never written anything for fun, and then the writing they produce blows me away.

Each of my eight Creative Writing classes have had their own unique personality. We’ve created fictional worlds, cities, and nation-states, written poems, short (and not-so-short) stories, and news articles. One semester, students wrote goals on post-it notes and added them to a “goal snake” when they completed their goal (the snake hung in my classroom for years); another group was obsessed with the word “defenestrate.” This semester’s class will be the first to be published.

I’ve sought authentic writing experiences for students, but didn’t have the bandwidth to find anything that felt sustainable and important to students beyond the classroom community. I’ve printed class sets of literary magazines on the school printer and created digital literary magazines at other times, but the execution has never quite met my vision. I had taken a step back from publishing this year, until Damian (a parent of a former Creative Writing student!) reached out to me about partnering with The Community Reporter. I proposed the idea to my new class of writers, and they were thrilled – and a bit scared – by the prospect of their work having an audience outside the classroom. We pored over the Reporter archives, finding stories from the past about our school and community members. I saw in them an eagerness for their voices to be heard and their work seen, and I knew this was the right direction for our class.

This spring, GAP Creative Writing students will publish their work in each issue of the Community Reporter between March and June. Their work will range from long-form articles (starting with Tallulah’s stunning piece about “Seussical”) to bite-sized memoirs to poems and stories. We are so excited to share their stories with you.

Olivia Wilsson, Global Arts Plus English Language Arts Teacher

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