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NewsDepth A+: Orange High School Writing Center

When you pull into the parking lot at Orange High School, in Pepper Pike, you are greeted by banners that say “To Learn. To Lead. To Make a Difference.” This week’s A+ Award exemplified that when they noticed a need at their high school, learned more about what their classmates needed, and founded the Orange High School Writing Center to make a difference.  

In 2020, when Anna and Ethan were sophomores, they noticed that their school didn’t have a writing lab, or any other way for students to show off their writing or seek peer editing. They told us that in middle school, Power of the Pen, which is an extracurricular writing competition, was very popular, and they really missed it when they got to high school.  

Being the true leaders that they are, Anna and Ethan, who are currently seniors, started to survey their classmates to learn more about the level of interest in a writing center at the high school. They used a strategy called the “Design Thinking Process” which guides you through a brainstorming process, the development of an idea, and the implementation of your plan to solve a problem.

The Design Thinking Process showed Anna and Ethan that their classmates at Orange High wanted an opportunity to write creatively and to seek editing on their writing assignments from their classmates. After hours of hard work, creative problem solving, and funding support from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, the Orange High Writing Center was born.

Students who participate in the writing center are invited weekly to sessions where they can write short fiction, poetry, and longer form fiction pieces. The participants are given a writing prompt, and they respond to the prompt and can even share their work with their peers. The group will also make appointments with their classmates to help them with their own writing. Anna told us that to be one of the editors, the interested students have to submit a resume, a writing sample, and go through an interview. She told us that in the last few months of the school year last year, they had nearly a hundred appointments with students looking for help! The group also hosts author talks featuring writers across all genres. A genre is a category of writing characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.

We were so inspired by Anna and Ethan that we asked them for some advice on how to make the most of our opportunities. Ethan told us that you should always write about things you enjoy. Nothing is stopping you from exploring and sharing your ideas. Anna told us that you should always follow your passion. Make your own opportunity and don’t wait for an invitation. 

We also want to congratulate the Orange High Writing Center for placing third at the Future Problem Solving international conference for their work this past summer. Now they can add a NewsDepth A+ Award to their honors! Great work!

Submit your ideas for our NewsDepth A+ segment to newsdepth@ideastream.org for consideration.