Over the summer, Chapin students had the opportunity to participate in “Travel a Path on Paper” – also known as TPP – an annual writing program that provides a flexible setting for students to stretch their creative muscles when school is not in session.
Founded in 2018, this offering celebrates writers of all levels in Classes 4-9 and has grown from a single workshop to two seven-course sessions.
While there are several collaborative Zoom meetings available for students to share their work, listen to others and exchange ideas or feedback, TPP is also tailored to meet the needs of traveling families and summer campers. The course lives online, which allows students to log on and write when they are able. (All students received instructor feedback regardless of whether they attended live sessions.)
Led by Middle School faculty members (Jenet Dibble, Head of MS Humanities Department; Lynette Engel, Class 7 Coordinator and teacher; Augie Sherman, Class 5 teacher and Advisor; Noreen Keller, Class 4 teacher and Advisor; and Kelly Hammond, a former Chapin MS teacher), TPP offers new classes each year. This year, those included: Poetry I, Poetry II, Poetry III: Poetry that can change the world; Poetry IV: Advanced Poetry Portfolio; Short Fiction, Short Fiction: Fantasy Fiction; and The Shape of Story.
Twice a week, the young writers received new prompts, investigated published pieces that demonstrated a specific technique and worked independently (on or offline) through a series of exercises. Students were then encouraged to write at least one piece using the technique they had explored.
Several students shared their feedback about the program saying, “I like that you get lots of examples for a lesson,” “It was well spaced out and, while it was easy to follow, it still challenged the writer,” “TPP is AMAZING because all the different teachers get to give you feedback,” and “The learning is consistent, and we improve with every step of the process.”
The second session, which runs from mid-August to the beginning of September, invites new Chapin students to participate. One student shared her appreciation noting, “I loved the Zoom meetings and getting to interact with other Chapin students and teachers before my first day!”
Whether students were developing characters, setting, symbolism and themes in Short Fiction; or working on meters, forms, rhythm, sound, tone and imagery in Poetry; their creativity was certainly flourishing!
We hope you enjoy a few excerpts from their impressive samples below.
“Painting of lionblaze”
I remember when color first touched the blankness
a bright orange streak
and soon you see it
Then soon, more color came flowing
onto the page
until it was all filled
and you see
stalking the prey
with the fiery blaze of the sun
and the bravery of a lion
And I have brought him to life
Serene sparkling lake
and the distant dots of a village
laid across from a color filled forest
of red wood and tiny leaves
Sand spotted path
grasping at little boats
bobbing across the water
waiting for tomorrow’s thrills
Pointillism with the point
of effortless style
showing off nature like magic
with a certain Je ne sais quoi
only captured by Seurat
“The Statue of Claudius”
What a choice
to tell the truth or save your life?
when faced with an emperor
with a limp
Do you show him in his weakness?
Do you perish for truth’s sake?
Or do you sculpt a fiction?
Do you show him as a strong and noble man?
With an eagle at his foot?
Do you tell the world that he is the son of Jupiter
And in doing so live a long life?
Is the truth really so valuable?
Does it outweigh a man’s existence?
I think not
summer went quickly just as fast as it came,
but i wished on every star it would all stay the same,
but time had made different plans for us two,
and before we knew it, it was time to bid one another adieu,
so the last night of summer you dragged me outside
and reminded me that this might be the last time,
so we walked beneath trees ‘round bushes and flowers,
star-gazing, talking, and laughing for hours,
we talked about life and everything that was wrong,
we talked about friendships and love that was strong,
strong enough to withstand a year far apart,
until the next year, the day summer would start.
i said i was worried to leave summer behind,
you just chuckled and said,
don’t worry you’ll be fine,
to this day i still think that your words were untrue,
i was angry at first, but no – really i knew,
that all your assurances just made me feel worse,
as autumn approached and i alone would traverse
the twists and the turns that the world had to bring,
we’d do it alone without knowing anything.
but there was nothing that i could do so i rested my case,
and enjoyed the last moments i had in your embrace,
so when august sent breezes that ran through my hair
we knew what it meant, the scent on the air.
it smelled like pumpkin spice,
apple pie, and warm walks in coats,
like candy and lattes and scary anecdotes,
so we waited sadly for the last days come,
and still i grew scared,
as you became more lost,
in the people
i knew as just some
Shape of Story
“Even when faced with the unimaginable, she always found the beauty in ordinary things. In fact, she would seek it out. She hunted for it; as if it was her sole purpose in this world. Every morning, I awoke to the sweet smell of cinnamon coffee and honey lavender scones seeping into my room. I knew I could find her pensively gazing up into the sky, watching for blue jays and mourning doves and robins. She would sometimes extend her hand to the smallest birds and offer them some crumbs from her palm. “Morning Nana,” I would grumble.
She would never reply, fully immersed in the moment. She would just motion silently to the empty rocking chair next to her. She would often point to the birds in the trees or offer me some crumbs to feed them with and she would place her gentle, loving hand on my back. If I would have savored those mornings, I would have noticed she was trying to let me in to her secret, her little way of life, but I was always too busy to ever take the time to listen. Now, I make cinnamon coffee and honey lavender scones, even if I find the coffee bitter and the scones dry. I sit on a rocking chair by my window and gaze up into the sky, looking for birds. And whenever I see a robin, or a blue jay, or a morning dove, I think of her and close my eyes to remember her serene smile and her warm hand on my back. I now go hunting for the meaning of pure happiness, following in my Nana’s footsteps, knowing that this way she will never be forgotten.”