After school on Wednesday, sophomore Madison K. was working on revising a writing assignment with senior and Student Editor Chloe P. in Hendersonville High’s media center.
“I had to revise my body paragraph to match my thesis statement,” Madison explained.
Madison is one of about 30 Hendersonville High students to take advantage of the school’s brand new, student-led Writing Center open Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:30-8 a.m. and 3-3:30 p.m.
Launched this month by English teacher Cole Ordiway, the Writing Center is still in its infancy; Wednesday was only the third day students held sessions, since the Writing Center’s schedule has been affected by weather-related school closures in the past two weeks.
But the center’s already received a huge response.
Ordiway said on the Writing Center’s first day of operation, a dozen students signed up to work with one of the center’s 18 volunteer Student Editors. Three days in, the center’s served twice that many.
“It’s been really fun,” said Megan P., a senior and Student Editor.
Be it a research report, essay, or poem, students can bring any writing assignment they’re working on into the Writing Center to be workshopped, Megan said.
“Of course, we want to answer whatever concerns they have,” she said. “We also aim to ensure that (their work) addresses the prompt.”
“Content is king,” Ordiway said. He added, “One of the things we promote is learning by conversations.”
He explained that each Student Editor first asks a Writing Center visitor to read his or her work aloud, and they discuss if – and how – the student’s writing has satisfactorily answered the writing prompt. From there, the Student Editors help their peers revise thesis statements, transitions, paraphrasing, sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, citations, overall organization – or whatever writing elements need to be addressed.
And the Student Editors have backup. Student Writing Consultants Dakota White and Jordan Washington at UNC-Asheville’s University Writing Center have been training them on how to workshop others’ writing and assist in the revision process, and they’ll continue to work with the college mentors through the semester.
Following each session with a student, the Student Editors at Hendersonville High complete a report for Ordiway, indicating the major concerns addressed in each individual writing assignment and their recommendations for the students’ continued work.
“Them filling this out gives me data on what my students need and how I can help,” Ordiway said.
And, he said, it benefits both the students giving and receiving the writing assistance. Students who visit the Writing Center receive one-on-one attention from a peer and improve their writing, while Student Editors apply writing theories and methods – and grow as leaders.
“It gives me a chance to read other peoples writing, and I feel like I’m contributing,” said Megan.
“You learn a lot more by teaching and doing than just by being told what to do,” Ordiway said.
“The goal of the Writing Center is not just to improve writing,” he said. “The goal is to create student leaders who just so happen to be good at writing and can help with writing.”
– By Molly McGowan Gorsuch
Public Information Officer