Etude High School sent eighteen students and two Language Arts staff members to the Whitewater Creative Writing Festival on Wednesday, November 18. This writing competition requires students to submit original works prior to the event; then presenting the piece to the judge and audience the day of the festival. Creativity and presentation skills are an intrinsic part of the curriculum at Etude in the form of the arts infused projects presented each semester by the juniors and seniors. The Creative Writing Festival gave the students another platform to present their skills while receiving feedback from college professors. Judges asked students to explain what inspired the work and for what forum it was created. Aly Madison said the competition helped her, especially the criticism of the judges and hearing other artist's styles. Some students write in their free time for the sheer passion of writing while others wrote their piece as a part of a class assignment.
Language Arts and writing teacher Tad Phippen Wente commented, "I love how the students are talking about their writing and creating with students from other schools. This inspires them to continue what they are doing and strive to improve for next year. It was extremely beneficial for the students to receive feedback from the judges to help them reflect on how they could improve their craft."
Another great component of the writer's festival was the open mic, which gave students the opportunity to read their work to other students. Jaide Lehnhardt loved Whitewater because the open mic was really fun, allowing her to discuss her work with other students. Sam Sheahan added, "It was an awesome and interesting experience with excellent feedback. People were interesting and helpful." Students benefited greatly from this opportunity to learn from other like-minded people who came from a large variety of schools.
The keynote speaker for this event was Marilyn Taylor, the Wisconsin Poet Laureate, who described her journey to becoming a poet. She discussed with humor and insight what made some poems great and what caused other poems to be painful to listen to. Students were excited to recognize many of the poems she mentioned and seemed to be motivated to continue to expand their own creativity. This creative writing festival challenged the students to reflect on how they could improve their work while exposing them to many new ideas.
Etude High School is a public charter school in the Sheboygan Area School District.