The Launch of the New Creative Writing Elective


Isabella Jiang and Asaka Park

There’s an exciting new elective in CHS —  Creative Writing is taught by Ms. Peters and is paired with a creative writing club, which meets every Tuesday during lunch.

CHS once had a creative writing course, which went defunct after the 2011-2012 year when the previous advisor passed away. Ms. Peters, a teacher of AP Literature at CHS, was inspired to revive the Creative Writing course after an enjoyable experience with workshopping in her doctorate program. Realizing, moreover, that students lacked an outlet for creativity at CHS — she explained that high school writing was very much “geared towards formal academic writing”, creating “a hole in the curriculum” — Ms. Peters revived the creative writing course this year.

So what do students really do in Creative Writing? According to Ms. Peters, there are three major focuses: fiction, poetry, and memoir/nonfiction — that is, “besides the intro and getting used to [Creative Writing],” Ms. Peters said.

Students are currently immersed in the fiction unit, developing and workshopping short stories. Then, they will explore writing in verse. Finally, they dive into a creative nonfiction unit. In this final unit, students will compose their own personal memoirs or craft a story about someone else through an autobiographical lens.

To sharpen their skills, students partake in various exercises. One early activity involved giving objects to blindfolded students and prompting them to create descriptions using vivid sensory details. Another stimulating exercise involved asking students to describe the emotions that arose in response to playing songs of various musical genres.

“I try to find ways for students to evoke emotions so that they can tap into what they’re feeling and try to get it on paper,” Ms. Peters said.

“So far, it has been a joy walking into class every day and just… writing,” said Maddie Smith, a student in the class and co-president of the Creative Writing Club.

In addition to stirring students’ creative potential, Ms. Peters perceives great value in honing the craft of writing, especially in regards to developing style. Over the course of the class, students will be exposed to the writing of various luminaries, such as Hemingway and Junot Diaz.

The ultimate mission of the course? Ms. Peters seeks “purely [to] have students take whatever they’ve learned and written and further develop it to prepare for publication. …The ultimate goal for a writer should be to publish,” she said.

And indeed, this goal will come to fruition at the end of the year: both the Creative Writing class and the club will have the opportunity to display their work on Opus, CHS’s literary magazine.