by Caroline Barry, Tori Cappo & Claire Magnanini
The process of scheduling and holding writing conferences has been changed for WHS students this year. The repurposed Writing Center has been designed to streamline the writing conference system, yet the change has led to unease among some students.
Writing Center meetings, previously known as writing conferences, will now be scheduled online and will meet in the English Resource Center, located in the library. Students can receive feedback from the teacher on duty, even if he or she is not that student’s English teacher. “It’s beneficial to expose your writing to a variety of different eyes,” said English Teacher Ms. Merit O’Hare.
According to Language Arts Supervisor Ms. Pamela Ackerman-Garcia, the new system aims to mirror a collegiate model. “Our focus as high school educators is to ensure that we emulate what’s happening in higher education,” Ackerman-Garcia said. “Most colleges and universities have writing centers, so students that need extra help to work on their assignments go to the Writing Center.”
Writing conferences are no longer based on matching student and teacher schedules. “I like the fact that there’s a period available for students whenever they’re free,” said English Teacher Ms. Aimee Burgoyne-Black. “In the past, it was easy to schedule with some students and more difficult for others.”
Senior Ally Sacher, who has used the Writing Center, said: “It is also cool to get different teachers’ perspectives. This makes getting help more accessible and is a great addition to the school.”
But some students are expressing concern over whether the Writing Center will meet their needs. “It is harder than just making an appointment with your English teacher,” said senior Ava Wadman. “If I want to meet with an English teacher, I’d want to meet with my own.”
Junior Matt Bernstein, who had similar concerns, said: “What worries me about the Writing Center is that when I’m writing the JRP, I might not necessarily be able to have a writing conference with my teacher. How one English teacher may assess your paper could be entirely different than how your own teacher would.”
The Writing Center mission statement clarifies that extra help with class content and assignment directions is still available from a student’s classroom teacher. The Writing Center serves as an additional resource for guidance with writing skills that are consistent from class to class, such as thesis statements, citations and organization.
In the future, the English Department plans to offer Writing Center help to students who are not available during the school day. “I think we’re looking in the future to start a writing program after school,” said Ackerman-Garcia. “If we could find funding for that, we would be really happy.”
To schedule a Writing Center meeting, sign up at bit.do/whswriting for an approximate time slot; drop-ins are welcome if space is available. A schedule of the teachers on duty each period is located in the Writing Center.