Before dawn broke on Wednesday, November 16, a group of IDEAS Academy writers boarded the bus heading to the UW-Whitewater Creative Writing Festival. The festival, an annual tradition for 32 years, is an opportunity for writers at the high school level to acquire constructive feedback on their work. It also allows them an audience to build upon their skill of presenting and public speaking.
This year, five students from IDEAS Academy won awards for their writing.
Sara Bartol- Second Place in Prose Poetry/Flash Fiction
Hannah Staats- Third Place in Prose Poetry/Flash Fiction
Paxton Alison- Third Place in Scriptwriting and Screenplay
Fiona Collin- Honorable Mention in Multimedia
Bianca Ranieri- Honorable Mention in Prose Poetry/Flash Fiction
Upon their arrival at the festival, excitement was almost palpable in the air: hundreds of creators bustling about, all ready to explore new and strange ideas. After checking in and collecting schedules for the day, students, teachers, and facilitators alike sat down to a speech by the keynote speaker, author and poet Kevin Coval of Young Chicago Authors.
Writer Sara Bartol appreciated his speech.
“I really enjoyed the message of ‘finding your people,’ which was especially resonant at a place where we had the opportunity to do just that. A lot of people think of writing as a lonely, quiet endeavor, and I thought Kevin Coval's speech highlighted the importance of sharing experiences, connecting with others, and truly listening to one another,” Bartol said.
Coval encouraged the audience, through the festival and future experiences, to find those with similar mindsets and connect with each other in order to gain new perspectives and inspirations.
Workshops were held for writers in 10 different categories including Poetry, Prose Poetry/Flash Fiction, Multimedia, Screenplay, and Songwriting. In these workshops, creators were given the chance to read their work aloud and collect feedback from professors and peers alike. This process of presenting work and gaining feedback isn’t new to students at IDEAS Academy. Through in-class workshops and Exhibitions of Learning, IDEAS students collaborate with each other and provide constructive feedback to better each other’s knowledge and creations quite often.
Writer Paxton Alison described the experience of the festival and what he learned overall.
“It taught me that if you put your work in and you work hard, you will obtain something you can be proud of,” Alison said.
The festival closed with an awards ceremony and much celebration amongst peers. IDEAS writers celebrated as if they had won the world, whooping and screaming as recipients were given their awards. The Creative Writing Festival was just one amazing experience of so many offered to students at IDEAS Academy and will continue to be a great place for writers to get feedback and collaborate with peers.
Pictured from left to right, award winners Paxton Alison, Hannah Staats, Sara Bartol, Bianca Ranieri