“Once a student creates work of value for an authentic audience beyond the classroom—work that is sophisticated, accurate, important and beautiful—that student is never the same. When you have done quality work, deeper work, you know you are always capable of doing more.” 
— Ron Berger

By Isabel Polletta ’16
Coming from middle school, I perceived myself to be at the height of my literary ability.  Upon arriving to Worcester Academy as a freshman, I realized that was not the case.  I was surrounded by peers whose literary capabilities surpassed mine, and I realized that my nonchalant approach to English writing wouldn’t be enough to get me an “A.” I faded into the background, letting other students make the “radical” conclusions about sex and/or death. I continued to be this way until sophomore year, when my Dystopian World essay captured the attention of Mr. Baillie. He called me out after class, asking me where the discrepancy was between my essay and my in-class participation. I then realized I could no longer hide, no longer sit idly and succeed.

The next two years flew by in a blur, I raised my hand, made radical (and correct) statements about the literature, setting a balance between my writing capability and my classroom participation, blazing a path for senior year AP English.

When junior year arrived, I was determined to throw behind my casual approach to literature and focus on the minute details that would improve my writing. A yearlong game of cat-and-mouse ensued, finding a more fitting word for this sentence, changing the punctuation in that line. In my attempt to revise my writing, I became more aware of my peers doing the same. By the end of junior year, my classmates and I had created our own revision system, comfortable sharing our ideas or essays with each other, and welcoming constructive criticism.

By the time senior year arrived, my reserved demeanor had vanished, and I looked forward to Mr. Haringa’s literary critiques. Outside of a classroom setting, you will never produce a final product on the first try. You will conceptualize, revise, and be subject to literary criticism. A network of students and teachers have helped me shape my writing style, and will continue to do so as I enter college. Worcester Academy gave me the motivation to overcome my inertia and harbor a desire to excel in English, both as a student, and as an individual.
By Ellexa Menezes ’15
The start of my fifth grade poetry unit in English class inspired me to begin writing poems of my own. However, my poetry lacked editing and the feedback of an experienced writer, and were honestly cringe-inducing when read more than once. I’m sorry to say that this deterred me from writing until my admission to Worcester Academy as a freshman. Upon my first clubs fair, I signed up for Poetry Club, whose faculty advisor was Sarah Getchell, my ninth grade World Literature teacher. Both Ms. Getchell’s class and Poetry Club helped me get back into writing and introduced me to spoken word poetry (which was not covered in my fifth grade poetry unit) as well as forms of prose. Since then, I have written poems and short stories, as well as character profiles for screenplay ideas that I hope to elaborate on in the future. I am also a part of Poetry and Prose Club, led by Charley Mull, and an afterschool Writers’ Group, led by David Baillie, my Honors World Literature teacher in tenth grade. Poetry and Prose Club meetings involve quickly responding to prompts by means of either poetry or prose, and then taking those first attempts and ideas home to continue working on them. The WA Writers’ Group is a group of WA student writers and faculty members who meet weekly to give and receive feedback on writing. These extracurricular groups, along with Worcester Academy’s English Department, have absolutely helped me become more confident in my writing and are continuing to help me develop my personal writing style.

by Mackenzi Turgeon ’17

Writing is one of the most powerful tools for spreading ideas and inciting change. “This is powerful.” These are words I’ve begun to hear more often than not when I get my poetry work-shopped. Besides “this made me cry” or “this gave me chills,” to be told that one is able to present words in such a way that people deem them powerful is the greatest compliment a poet can receive. I fell in love with poetry freshman year when my World Literature teacher, Sarah Getchell, showed our class a video of Sarah Kay performing, “If I Should Have a Daughter.” This same teacher, who is now a mentor of mine, recommended that I apply to a prestigious writing workshop, the New England Young Writers’ Conference at Bread Loaf, the following year. I was accepted and the four days I spent in the middle of Vermont just writing were some of the best. I’ve learned to read my peers’ work and stop comparing their style to mine. I’ve learned to accept their strengths as theirs, but still use them to highlight my weaknesses so that I can improve as a poet and a writer. To be validated as a writer, even in the slightest, by people with three times more experience and even by those who do it for a living, is an indescribable feeling. I think the first time I realized I had some sort of knack for poetry was during that same World Literature class, where I read a poem I wrote about Alice in Wonderland in front of my class and they all said I was so talented. At one of the first writers’ groups organized by a teacher, I had another “a-ha” moment. I was prepared for my writing to be torn to shreds, and, after the person to the right of me read my poem aloud, they all needed a minute to take it in. Naturally I had no idea what this implied, but it turned out they found it to be really impressive. That is not to say I did not need to edit it, as no writer is perfect, but I was relieved and my confidence was boosted. As for academic writing, I sometimes find myself struggling, but I’m thankful that I have had Kate Schlesinger as a history teacher for the past two years. My writing in that regards has definitely improved since freshman year, undoubtedly because of her. Another teacher that has helped me tremendously is David Baillie; he’s not only helped me improve my poetry and English essays, but my character as well. Writing and those at WA who have been there every step of the way have shaped my life in the most positive way possible. These people have inspired me to possibly pursue journalism or a career in humanities, as they’ve brought a true love for writing out of me.
By Loch Baillie ’17
I am not one for essays. In fact, I would prefer if I could live my life without writing them. I know it’s trivial. But the truth is, I’d much rather spend my time building worlds and destroying them, creating characters and letting them interact, and dwelling on the political, social, and cultural aspects of fictional stories I create. But the truth is, in the eyes of education, analysis is key, and writing prose is what is considered “useful.” So for the past five years I have gone with the flow of writing theses, roadmaps and the dreaded topic sentences for body paragraphs one, two, and three, but the truth is, that is so dull. The funny thing is, though, that I’m glad I have been made to write all the essays I have over the past five years. I am glad that I still struggle to fully back up my arguments and toil to write compelling conclusion paragraphs because I am always trying harder, and therefore, slowly but surely improving my writing.
Writing has always been a crucial part of my education at Worcester Academy. Across all the core subjects in the school’s curriculum (English, history, foreign language, science, and math) the ability to write well is key. In English and history, essays are a monthly occurrence; in French, we answer questions in full sentences and write short essays; in science, we write language-heavy lab reports; and, yes, even in math, I have found myself using the writing skills I have learned. It is a critical skill to be able to write in many different mediums.
At Worcester Academy, there are a few clubs that students can join to share and develop their creative writing. Two in particular are the Prose and Poetry Club (which focuses directly on what the name suggests) and the Innovation Club, a club that supports students who are interested in pursuing personal projects in any desired subject (in the case of writing, students would be able to write a novel, put together a collection of their poetry, etc.). For me, though, I find that “workshopping” my creative writing with fellow students is the most effective way of becoming a better writer. Since last year, I have been part of WA’s Writers’ Group, an alliance of students (and two teachers) who meet every other Monday to share and workshop each others’ creative writing. Over the months, I have shared and received feedback for my two current projects, a YA (Young Adult genre) dystopian novel and a YA fantasy novel. Through this process I feel that I have improved my writing skills, and I am thankful that there is still room at our school for creative writing.
by Sean Pierson ’16 and Varun Nair ’16
At Worcester Academy, students frequently collaborate in their work.  The following is collaboration by two WA students who pooled their talents and co-authored a piece, alternating writing one paragraph after another to complete the article.
If you are to write an essay, sestina, short story, or – dare I say – DBQ (document based question), commit; commit to your argument with tranquil fervor; commit to those six words that you have chosen to end each line with in that fateful first stanza; commit to the world you have created; and of course, commit to brevity. This is advice. This is also the alumni magazine and you likely do not need my advice, or at least, have no use for advice on the topic of DBQs (the sestina advice on the other hand, quite useful). However, this is advice I feel compelled to share as I reflect on Worcester Academy and the writing it has produced.
After you learn this, something else comes next. The time when you realize “Hey, I’m actually somewhat decently good at this. I should maybe do this some more.” And it is demonstrably not this feeling if it is simply the comments and grade you received that prompt this epiphany. This consciousness rears its head, first unrecognized, but more discernible once one spends more time than strictly necessary simply because it’s just not ready. This is when that point can be perceived, because while it is certainly not the only thing required, it is quintessential to all good writers: passion. This passion takes us down many roads, most commonly the sleepless one of strained eyes and coffee-ringed coffee tables.
Tables, yes, tables, there is a symbolism in that. A balance. And, too, tables here are an unexpected virtue. Just as you began to consider these roads, the weather-beaten channels of passion we begin to dip our toes into at WA, it is the tables that prove vital to the establishment of penned consonance and calculated dissonance. For, while adventure and imagination are paramount, you can only stretch strained eyes and comprehend the swirling stains, embark on these adventures and decipher that labyrinthine imagination, after you have the table, the base, on which lies a copy of Hamlet or The God of Small Things or Invisible Cities accompanied by a pad and pen, stable against the refectory.
All of these texts and more provide a backdrop to base everything on. Without the solid foundation built through careful reading and analysis of literature, both high and common, the skills necessary to be a successful English student cannot be honed. You must learn the careful intuition that makes it an art even in a seemingly unimaginative unraveling of another’s work. Worcester Academy’s English Department successfully unravels a rope, a rope that has been wound tightly through your last days of eighth grade to follow a rigid pattern of writing. A framework impossible in institution, for writing must form like a liquid to the shape dictated by the purpose, and nothing more.
“Logical forms accrue to subject-matter when the latter is subjected to controlled inquiry.” This is a quote from John Dewey and I believe it holds true. Though tedious, proving the minutiae to the grand in every subject, explaining and questioning things merely defined as “true,” matures our latent logical capabilities. It turns us into critics, though productive critics. I’ve learnt to not just label everything, not just throw words loosely outlining a theme, but to use the boons of controlled inquiry to validate my statements. And yet, this logical development is not the sole prize of education. Worcester Academy is distinctly memorable because the people here note this. As pure critics, as solely pragmatists, our writing would be coarse, hardened by a lack of air and life, yet it remains fluid. It seeps and boils and it does this because, here, there is a certain lack of boundaries. And there is a sense of possibility surrounding the original and creative.
WORCESTER ACADEMY® is a co-ed day and boarding school for grades 6 to 12 and postgraduates. Our urban setting, diverse community, and innovative curriculum provide each student with unique opportunities for self-discovery, academic achievement, and personal empowerment.

Worcester Academy © 2014

81 Providence Street
Worcester, MA 01604
☏ 508-754-5302

Privacy Guidelines