English department introduces writing center

The Starwrite Center opens Sept. 6 to offer students help with writing of all sorts.


The center, located on the second floor of M&A, is open all periods everyday of the week. photo by Meggie Mayer

by Gabby Mesa and Meggie Mayer

story by Gabby Mesa

Freshman Lily Altenhofen restlessly stood in line minutes before the bell sounded to declare the end of second activity. She was waiting to get help with her research paper, an assignment that would ultimately make up 100 points of her final grade. With deadlines nearing, other students like Altenhofen, had decided to congregate in English teacher Carrie Jacquin’s room. Because of this the room was stuffy, loud and crowded. Altenhofen finally reached the front of the line, with little time left to get the help she needed. The bell sounded and she was sent on her way. The Starwrite Center was created this year to avoid situations like these.

This fall, the English department is introducing Starwrite, STA’s new writing center located in room  M211, the same space as the M&A printer. The center was opened as a resource for writing help of all sorts on Sept. 6.  

Michelle Johnson, who supervises the center full time, explained all that the Starwrite Center can be used for.

“The Starwrite Center [is]a resource for all of the girls who attend [STA] who want assistance writing their papers, college essays, or any project that involves writing,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson, in order to utilize the center, students can either make an appointment in advance or walk in and sign up.

“If there is a specific writing project you want to work on we can help you with that,” Johnson said. “You can sign up for a 20-30 minute slot with a tutor.”

Johnson explains that the Starwrite Center is a peer tutoring program supervised by herself and English teacher Diane Hirner.

“We have approximately 30 seniors who have signed up and received training to be tutors,” Johnson said.

English teacher Katie Weber stressed the importance of the peer tutoring aspect, explaining how sometimes students are more receptive to the words of their peers.

“Teachers like to get technical and get into the details,” Weber said. “[Peer tutors] can explain things in ways that make better sense.”

While the center can be used for help with assignments, Johnson stressed that it is not an open room for frees or activity periods.

“This is not a hangout place, this is a place that is very purposeful,” Johnson said.

Johnson described this new addition to campus is not only a resource, but simply another aspect of our college preparatory experience.

“When you go to college,” Johnson said, “writing centers are very common on campus.”

According to Weber, who worked in a writing center at Rockhurst University, the Starwrite Center will be helpful for both students and teachers throughout the entire essay writing process. Instead of visiting a teacher’s room students have the option of visiting the Starwrite Center.

“It will save time,” Weber said. “During the writing process [students] will have the opportunity to work with someone who is specialized in a facet of writing.”

Johnson also commented on how the center will be helpful to both teachers and students alike.

“Hopefully this will be a benefit to the teachers also because they’re so busy assigning the work and helping the students get through it,” Johnson said. This is just another resource to not have everything fall on them.”

According to Weber, this new resource has been in the works for over a year. Chemistry teacher Mary Rietbrock who plans to utilize the center herself, explains why she believes the center was started.

“I think there was a desire on the part of all of the faculty to assure that our girls could be good writers,” Rietbrock said. “Not just in their english classes but papers for social studies or for science or other areas.”

Rietbrock encourages students to try out the writing center even if it’s not for help with an English paper. As a science teacher, she refers students to the center for help with lab reports.

“Technical writing, which is used in the sciences for instance, is a little different than writing an essay,” Rietbrock said. “However, there are things that are common in all types of writing that can be stressed through the writing center.”

Johnson reiterated that all types of writing can be practiced in the center, even creative writing.

“I’m going to offer creativity workshops once or twice a month during the activity periods so that girls can do writing assignments that are fun,” Johnson said.

Weber highlighted the importance of creative, fun writing and explained how writing has become nothing more than an assignment to most girls.

“Unfortunately I think writing is one of those things that has become labor to most people. It is hard to find people nowadays that truly enjoy writing,” Weber said. “There has been such an emphasis on writing as a thing you do to get a grade on. It’s a lot like test taking.”

Weber says that good writing is an important skill no matter the field you may enter post STA, and Johnson agrees.

“No matter what your job is, if you have the ability to think outside of the box you’re an asset,” Johnson said.

With her workshops, Johnson hopes to bring some of the fun back into writing. Whether for English, science or creative writing, the Starwrite Center is a resource and teachers encourage students to utilize it.

“Don’t hesitate to use the writing center,” Rietbrock said. “If you think that it can benefit you, please go take advantage of it.”

photos by Meggie Mayer

[nggallery id=1278]