Writing Workshop for Circle of Nations Students sponsored by The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and the Red River Valley Writing Project
On September 12, 2014, 65 7th and 8th grade students at Circle of Nations School in Wahpeton, North Dakota participated in a day-long writing workshop sponsored by the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and the Red River Valley Writing Project. The workshop was funded in honor of 1948 winner Kay Walkingstick, a Native American artist. The goal of the workshop was to encourage students in grades 7–12 to share their voice and to invite students to engage with their creative peers. This workshop was part of a national initiative called Start.Write.Now to inspire teens across the country to engage in creative activities throughout the summer.
Start.Write.Now writing workshops and open mic readings help students explore and develop their craft through professional mentorship, and provide opportunities for students to perform their work in a fun, inclusive and supportive environment. Circle of Nations students had the opportunity to flex their imaginations through interactive group work and instruction led by local facilitators: NDSU Professor/Ojibwe poet Denise Lajimodiere, NDSU doctoral student/Ojibwe teacher Caitlin Johnson, Circle of Nations staff member /Award-winning Native American writer Lise Erdrich, Circle of Nations Principal Brad Zachow, and Circle of Nations teachers Lori Hieserich and Laura Youngbird. The facilitators led workshops in poetry, short story writing, flash fiction, photography, comic book writing, and artful writing respectively. The workshop was organized by the Red River Valley Writing Project Director and NDSU Associate Professor Kelly Sassi, who stated, “promoting writing among Native American students and all North Dakota students is part of our writing project mission.”
Participants were encouraged to prepare submissions for the 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the longest-running, most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative teens in the United States.
Red River Valley Writing Project teachers who participated in this event were Lori Hieserich, Jenna Trosvik, and Joyce Holkup, all Circle of Nations teachers, and Caitlin Johnson, NDSU doctoral student.