School One has long been known as an innovative high school with a strong arts program. In the last few years, however, School One has been branching out to offer a variety of writing opportunities for adults as well as students from all over Rhode Island. Some of those opportunities bring adults and students together to create and share stories.
Last year, School One and Goat Hill Writers kicked off Write Rhode Island, a short story competition for any Rhode Island student in grades 7-12. Goat Hill is a collective of several well-known published authors with extensive experience editing anthologies, judging contests and teaching writing.
Write Rhode Island invites students to create a short story that incorporates Rhode Island as a theme. It also offers prizes, awards and publishes the Write Rhode Island anthology, the only statewide print magazine dedicated to the fiction writing of RI students. Now in its second year, Write Rhode Islandlaunches with public readings of student work and creative writing workshops at schools and libraries in which students meet with published writers for guidance and support. (All of the workshops are free for RI students thanks to the project’s sponsors: RISCA, BankRI, RICH, and Stenhouse Consulting).
But is it just teens who want to craft their stories? What about their parents? Grandparents? After all Providence has a literary history from Edgar Allen Poe to Edith Wharton, John Irving to Cormac McCarthy. And then there’s Lovecraft whose fan base is international. Lovecraft, in fact, attended Slater Avenue Elementary School on the same site as School One’s current building (many School One students say his ghost still roams the halls).
True to School One’s mission, Head of School, Jennifer Borman, wanted to create a place where writers of all ages and abilities would be welcome. Working with Diana Champa, the school’s Outreach and Literary Arts Program Director, they began setting up partnerships and programs that complement the school’s curriculum. First they hosted Goat Hill’s day long creative writing workshop event, Workshopapolooza.Then, as part of Reading Across Rhode Island, they started an intergenerational book club where their students and retirees meet over lunch to discuss The Wright Brothers, Just Mercy, and this year, Devil in the White City.
“Word has gotten out about the collaboration with students from School One. When members heard about the success of the book club, they said, ‘sign me up for any future classes.’ Last year our members rearranged their schedules and appointments to make time to be a part of the School One book club or landscape painting class,” Hamilton House’s Executive Director, Jessica Haley, explained.
So what’s next?
This September School One is teaming up with Boston’s creative writing center GrubStreet, as well as other local authors and writers, to host a serious of creative writing courses for adults in the evenings at School One.
“We’re big fans of GrubStreet,” says Head of School One Jennifer Borman. “They’ve created a vibrant community of readers and writers in the Boston area and we’re thrilled that they’re collaborating with us in Providence. School One has a 45-year tradition of offering high quality arts programs to our students. We’re excited to open our doors to our wider Rhode Island community for adults to engage in creative writing and literature.”
“We’ve long wanted to expand our creative writing class offerings in Providence,” said longtime GrubStreet instructor, board member, and Providence resident Ethan Gilsdorf. “Our partnership with School One allows us to serve more students in the local area. We’re offering a variety of classes in fiction, memoir and screenwriting. I can’t wait to see which students join us at our new ‘home’ at School One.” Gilsdorf, author of “Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks,” will teach memoir, personal essay and op-ed writing.