July 16 2012
Ambitious middle and high school students are hard at work this summer inside the Slinger High School Library.
They're enrolled in the Future Author's camp, a two-week intensive writing workshop for aspiring young writers. The students are here voluntarily, and will spend the two weeks sharpening their writing skills.
Paul Walter, a seventh grade English teacher at Slinger Middle School, organizes the program.
"They're working together, they're writing together, but on what interests them," he said. "Not for a grade, but because they really want to write and that's something that interests them."
Walter says the students are free to write whatever they choose, but only after they respond to a writing prompt each morning. On the day I visited, the students were working an assignment called "The Best Part of Me."
Modeled after a children's book, the students were instructed to pen a poem, highlighting their best attributes. It's meant to boot their confidence, both in themselves and in their writing. The finished poems will accompany a photo of the student and a picture frame to give as a gift.
It turns out, students learn a lot from writing poetry, too. Unfortunately, Walter says, as the educational standards change, creative writing like poetry and short-stories are being deemphasized statewide. But he says writing anything -- even poetry -- helps strengthen critical communication skills.
"Almost anything you choose to pursue later on is going to involve some kind of writing, or at least communication," he said. "Just being an effective communicator is a lifelong skill."
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