Since I retired from Fremd last year, I wasn’t as involved in the planning as I usually am, which made me a little sad. But mostly I was proud. Like seeing one of your kids graduate and continue to do good in this world. And I witnessed so much good. Students, about 100 of them, writing about love and despair and obstacles and joy. Teachers, fifteen of them, offering polished essays and stories, some of them worthy of a TED talk. A group of FANBOYS teachers playing their annual concert. And a dozen visiting writers giving generously of their time and heart.
Our fabulous tech crew arranged to stream the week live, and you can find the archived feed here: WW LIVE. If this link changes, just go to Ustream and search Fremd High School Writers Week 2013.
While the videos may help provide keener insight than any words I can offer here, I’d maintain (sorry) that you had to be there. Which is why I took off the entire week from subbing at another school to attend. I’m guessing our graduates can identify with this. During the week, we hear from many of them, wishing us well, wishing they could be there, tuning in to the live stream. But they know they’re missing out, missing the intensity of the audience, the give and take between presenter and listener, especially as audience members storm the stage after each session. My good friend and colleague, Gary Anderson, and I have attended national conferences the past several years, urging other teachers to host their own Writers Week, and there are about a dozen schools across the country that now run some version. And we’ve heard these teachers echo the same sentiment about the intensity and goodwill that Writers Week fosters.
While writing is the focus, the week is more about the generosity that accompanies the impulse to commit words to a page. Writers share their innermost fears and wishes, their regrets and hopes, they share their lyrics and stories and joy, all of which requires risk and changes lives. In a phrase, people’s best emerges during this week.
On another note. I’ve been subbing at Lake Park for seven weeks. When I returned to Fremd last week, I kept thinking I was seeing my current Lake Park students, which would be impossible. I realized immediately that this was the one of those stupid leaps the brain makes: perceiving things we’re primed to perceive. If this leap can happen after only seven weeks, I thought, Why not intentionally fill our brains with good stuff, which would prompt us to seek out and find other good stuff? Maybe this is why teachers bring in good literature and complex music and rich historical stories. They want to fill students’ brains with good stuff to crowd out some of the trash they inevitably encounter in this strange world we live in.