This is the time of year when students begin to select courses for the next school year. Students at the Center classes have always been open to any student at the school. In some cases students choose our classes. In other cases, counselors simply place them in our classes for reasons we as teachers never know.
Today’s blog features an essay by Nantrell Malveo, who will graduate this spring from Frederick Douglass High School. In the essay Nantrell explores how she found herself in a Students at the Center class and how her thinking about the class and the program has changed over time.
Students at the Center Creative Writing Class
When I first got to Douglass, I thought that I was just going to go do what I had to do, graduate, go to college and never look back. But what I didn’t know was that I was going to be in a writing class. When I first got to this creative writing class also called SAC (Students at the Center), I thought it was just another English class, and I was going to pass it just like all my other English classes. I was dead wrong. In this class you have to sit in a circle so everyone can see you and introduce yourself every time someone new comes. You have to write a story sometimes about whatever you want or most of the time Mr. Randels gives you a topic like “Your first experience with a gun or a dead body” or “Inhaling Brutality, Exhaling Peace” to write.
Then you have to write or type it and then read it aloud in class. Then your classmates give you their opinion on what they think you should change or keep. But that’s not the worst part. Then you have to revise it and read it again and again until you get every detail perfect; then you get a grade. I told my mom “these people want too much from me. They all in my business.” I was happy when my 9th grade year was over. Now I was closer to my dream of leaving.
My sophomore year came and went. It was bittersweet but more bad than good. Because of Hurricane Katrina I kept bouncing around from state to state, school to school. But the good thing about it was that I didn’t have any classes like the writing class where you’re always judged by what you write, the way you write, and unlike in writing class you don’t have to come up with the answer—you just have to study. But most of the time I was too sad about losing all my stuff like my photos and my elementary and middle graduation dresses to care.
It wasn’t until a year after Katrina, my junior year when I was back at Douglass, that I realized how much I really like SAC. And even though you have to write a lot, most of the stuff you write is about you, so there’s never a wrong answer. And it’s better to write stuff down than say it, so that no matter if you forget or something happens to you, your writings will always be around, and like I say “even if some people judge you, your pen and paper never will.”
And unlike most classes SAC is a place to express what’s on your mind and just tell people your thoughts on stuff whether it’s stuff at school, in your neighborhood, or just stuff in your life. That’s why SAC is something that I want to be a part of now as well as in the future.
The opinions expressed in Student Stories: A New Orleans Classroom Chronicle are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.