On a recent afternoon, the sixth-floor classroom buzzed with activity. At the table by the window, a case of sibling rivalry threatened to derail an important soccer game. On the floor across the room, a trip to Brazil turned into an unexpected adventure, and nearby, a girl named Ophelia struggled with a problematic classmate. There were also episodes of thrilling time travel, a nail-biting ghost tale and a dark fantasy inspired by Harry Potter.
Despite all this excitement, Room 604 was almost completely silent, save for the hushed voices that occasionally punctuated the stillness and the near-constant tapping of laptop keyboards. That is because the drama described above did not happen in real life but in the imaginations of a group of passionate and prolific Middle School students.
Once a cycle on C-days, a group of 24 girls in Classes 4-7 spends the final period of the day immersed in Creative Writing Club, one of 17 fun and informative fall clubs that allows these students to explore everything from cultural awareness to kung fu. Middle School clubs also give them the opportunity to interact with students in other grades.
Supervised by Middle School faculty members Carolyn Durante (Learning Resources), Lauren Gallagher (Math) and Noreen Keller (Humanities), this particular club helps young writers strengthen their literary muscles by allowing them unstructured time to nurture and express their ideas.
Unlike in academic classes with pre-set curricula, club members proceed at their own pace. What they choose to write about, and how they decide to tell their unique stories, is entirely up to them. They also have a built-in support network: The students read each other’s documents-in-progress, offering valuable, and ongoing, feedback as peer editors.
During this writer’s visit to the Creative Writing Club, the students were all absorbed in crafting an amazing array of work, which included fan fiction (inspired by books already published), as well as original pieces in both realistic and fantasy genres. The energy in the room was palpable as they strove to develop relatable characters and plausible plot lines, while experimenting with different points of view and fine-tuning dialogue.
Confident and enthusiastic, the students were delighted to talk about their projects and their artistic processes. A few even read some parts aloud to this visitor. However, for the majority of the class period, they focused quietly on the captivating stories emerging from their creative minds. Some sat at tables, others preferred comfortable spots on the carpet. One tucked herself into a small corner adjacent to a shelf of library books, which perhaps served as inspiration.
By all accounts, Creative Writing Club is a rewarding and enjoyable way for these Middle School students to spend a C-day afternoon. A few of these writers shared their impressions:
“It’s a very free club. I just open my laptop and work on anything.”
“I like acting, and I try to put my acting skills into my writing. I try to become my character.”
“Like reading, creative writing is a portal to a new world. You can be transported.”
“Creative writing is a way to understand different kinds of people, to get into their shoes.”
“Writing is my favorite thing to do!”
Browse photos from a recent club meeting below: