Our Stories

Creative Writing at JPDS-NC

May 14, 2015 by Lisa Schopf (Faculty and Staff) Terry Volk (Faculty and Staff)

I push on to one key after another, not having enough time to think about what I’m doing before I have to do something else. The sound flows out of the piano and onto the gigantic stage. It swirls around the seats and into the burning lights above me. It flows down and circles my ears before opening me into a world of sound, music. I approach the fast part. I’ve done it before and know I can do it, but what would I do in front of these hundreds of people if I made a… mistake?

-Excerpt from “The Mistake,” by Gabriel Brumberg, fifth grader

This excerpt is from one of the short stories that fifth graders wrote during the past year. Some fifth graders explored “small moments” in their lives to craft stories that helped flesh out and derive meaning from these moments. Through their writing, they recognized that these seemingly small moments actually contained much greater significance than they may have even initially recognized. Other students wrote dramatic adventures, employing imaginative problem-solving as they crafted their short stories. As students brainstormed ideas, planned the elements of their stories, and revised their writing, they practiced and reinforced stages of the writing process which could translate to any writing effort.

The experience of writing short stories in fifth grade follows a commitment in our school to offering our children opportunities to engage with creative writing. The reasons supporting this commitment stem from an appreciation for the many ways creative writing can help our students grow as divergent thinkers, reflective readers, able problem-solvers, and effective writers. At times, students find that having a joyful experience of being able to write a story offers them greater confidence and know-how that empowers them when they encounter other writing tasks. As students construct their plots, they hone their planning skills; as they mold a character, they develop their observational and social insights; as they paint a scene with words, they appreciate the nuances of our vast vocabulary and the power of the word; as they work with peer editors, they learn how to collaborate and to clarify their thinking; and as they draw on moments from their own lives and observations to inform their content, they begin to better understand themselves, others, and the world around them.

Throughout their years at JPDS-NC, students encounter creative writing in different contexts. In some years, they periodically respond to writing prompts that encourage them to imagine different scenarios and characters. Assignments often offer a choice of activities with options that encourage creative writing elements. Creative Writing is also offered as a chug for fifth and sixth graders and as a PEP option. The chug meets for eight session in the middle of the year, with students focusing on a distinct writing skill at each meeting. During the PEP class that meets on Tuesdays after school, students are encouraged to write freely in a supportive and joyful environment, and they celebrate their efforts through the publication of their own literary journal.

Writing is an integral part of our lives, and being able to express oneself is a vital skill. Writing creatively expands our consciousness and helps us discover who we are and what we are capable of. It is a way to celebrate our hopes and dispel or confront our fears, no matter our age. Through creative writing, we extend the realm of possibility and imagine solutions and scenarios that can inspire new thinking and action. As we look ahead to the summer, we encourage our students to continue to imagine, wonder, and explore, and even to write down some of their own stories that they carry inside them. We would love to see some of these stories when they return in the fall!