What if your friend wasn't impressed by your new crush? What if you had to convince someone you'd seen a UFO? What if you were stuck on an elevator with a stranger who was lonely and talkative?
These were just a few of the writing prompts tackled by 80 high school students from Westfield and Chicopee who attended Holyoke Community College's second annual Creative Writing Day on Friday, April 8.
The day's events included campus tours, a flash fiction contest, and poetry prompts, led by HCC English faculty. Students were able to work on their journaling, screenwriting, poetry, drama, and fiction skills.
"These students are all working at the AP level and were selected by their English teachers to attend today," said Harold Santiago, Admissions program coordinator. "It's our goal to expose them to the HCC creative writing program and opportunities at HCC that they might not know about."
During one improvisational activity, HCC English professor David Champoux selected two students from the large group and assigned one the role of babysitter, and the other the role of child who doesn't want to go to bed.
"Your job," he said to the 'babysitter' while setting up the scene, "is to convince him to go to bed." He turned to the 'child.' "Why do you think it is you don't want to go to bed?" he asked. The student thought for a minute, and then replied, "Because Breaking Bad is on."
One after another, students bravely took center stage in the Picknelly Dining Room before their friends and classmates. The sense of peer support in the room was evident in the applause offered for each student who shared their newest work.
"The kids are stepping up to a different level of attention in a setting like this," Margaret Jasinski, an English teacher at Chicopee High School, said. "It's very enjoyable to watch the process. They're coming up with creative, fresh content."
PHOTOS by HANNAH WAREHAM: (Left) A high school student participates in Creative Writing Day at HCC Friday, April 8. (Right) HCC English professor Dave Champoux leads high school students from Chicopee and Westfield in a writing exercise during Creative Writing Day. (Thumbnail) A high school student engaged in a writing exercise at HCC during Creative Writing Day.