The Writing Society


For many students, writing is an act of catharsis, a mental release from the stresses of school, the pandemic, interpersonal relationships, and the countless other sources of anxiety faced by teenagers today. However, creative writing often goes unspoken about, and beyond the walls of a structured English class — and even within — there is not much opportunity for students to fully express and explore this interest.

 Tenth grade English teacher Roseanne Mitchell described it like this: “We envy teachers who have double periods. I think all English teachers wish they had more time in the day to cover creative writing.” Mitchell explained that although the English curriculum provides opportunity for creative writing through projects, the primary in-class focus is formal writing, and creative forms of writing, such as short stories and poetry, sometimes get swept under the rug.

 Sophomores Mimi Berkowitz and Giulia Lubrano took notice of this phenomenon and realized a need for a space where students can share their writing, free of grading, restriction, and judgement. Both Berkowitz and Lunbrano love to write and have shared their poetry with one another for years. Over the past several months, the two have discussed the potential for a creative writing club at LHS, but for a while, were unsure of where, or to whom, to present their plan. In February, they finally pitched the idea to Mitchell, who immediately agreed to jump on board.

 After meeting several times via Webex and recruiting another interested student, Isabella Scholl, their next step was to garner approval from the LHS administration. Berkowitz and Lubrano presented their mission statement to Principal Joseph Rainis and Assistant Principal Matthew Sarosy, whom Lubrano described as “excited” about the idea. According to Lubrano, Rainis was enthusiastic about the virtual nature of the club, considering the restrictions placed on extracurricular activities by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as its laid-back and non-stressful environment.

The club held its first meeting on Tuesday, March 23 at 7 p.m., and 26 students attended. Lubrano, Scholl, and Mitchell said they were pleasantly surprised at the large turnout and were excited to see so many students express interest in creative writing. “Our hope is for students to be able to share their thoughts in a safe environment,” said Lubrano. “In the Writing Society, anyone can write, say, and be whatever they want,” she added.

 The meeting began with some introductions and then flowed into a “free-write,” where students were directed to write for a designated amount of time without stopping. The only rules: the pen cannot leave the paper unless one is turning the page, and if one has nothing to write, he must write “blah, blah, blah…” or more directly, “I have nothing to write, I have nothing to write…” until something comes to mind. The goal of the exercise is to achieve a stream of consciousness, and to hopefully land upon an unexpected thought that will evolve into a subject to write about.

 Although some students recorded mundane thoughts, such as grocery lists or what happened throughout the day, others produced original poems and short stories. “You never know if there could be a seed that grows into something amazing, and ‘free-write’ allows you to explore that,” said Mitchell. Mitchell shared that she was impressed by the quality of some students’ work. “Kids sometimes don’t sound like kids when they share their writing,” she said, “and I always find that to be so special. I am humbled by their beauty.”

Lubrano and Scholl plan to begin every meeting with a “free-write” session and then move into a sharing block, where students can present their work from the past week. At the end of each meeting, they will announce a writing prompt, which club members have the option to explore over the upcoming week, or to ignore and write whatever they wish to write. 

Mitchell said the goal of the prompts is to challenge the students and lead them into meaningful thought and eventually writing content, but also to be open to each individual’s interpretation. The first writing prompt, formed by Berkowitz and Lubrano, was, “If you could have been born in a different decade, which is it and why?” Mitchell proposed another idea for a future meeting: “The world as I see it.”

Berkowitz, Lubrano, Scholl, and Mitchell said they would all love to see a creative writing elective at LHS in order to provide even more learning opportunities for students. For now, they hope to continue the club for years to come, expanding it and garnering more members. Mitchell said her favorite part of the club is its environment that fosters comradery. “One of my favorite things is when a student shares their work, and you can see the other kids look at each other and be so impressed by that student. It’s inspiring,” she said.

 The club plans to host an open-mic night at the end of the school year, via Webex. Any LHS student can join the Tuesday night meetings through the Webex link, which has been posted in every English teacher’s Schoology page or OneNote.