We Write Here
By LAUREN SRIVASTAVA
We Write Here publishes and awards excellent student writing. It provides adults and families a window into what is on the minds of the youth and gives students a platform for honest expression and a place to voice their stories. The project started over two years ago in Oakland, CA. I recognized a need for this after almost 10 years of teaching, and created this website for students 6th-12th grades to send in writing. During this past year, due to covid and remote schooling, the submissions opened up to students from any location and awards have gone to students internationally.
Reopening the schools requires bringing back connection and a sense of community. The experiences that the students had during this time can be honestly shared here through their writing and we hope they find it rejuvenating and healing to read stories by peers that gives voice to the same experiences, concerns, and joys, etc. Even though students are separated by schools and classrooms there is still a sense of unity in their city and the local culture. We saw that awarding and publishing their writing was a way to connect the community to the mindset and talents of the students. We look forward to seeing this project continue to grow and expand.
We have received hundreds of writing submissions from students all over the world.
(Although the project originally started in Oakland, CA).
Awarded students have said: “Thank you for creating a space where the youth can voice themselves and have the opportunity for their voice to be heard.” – Castillo
“Oh and thank you so much for choosing me. I will appreciate it for the rest of my life!” – Yare
“I’m so happy to have my work published and recognized. It means so much to me. This inspires me to keep writing.” Hazel Grace
Readers and adults have written: “Open, honest expression of ideas and feelings is the soul of individual awareness and the foundation for genuine, fearless interrelationship. It needs to be encouraged, recognized and rewarded.” – L.Reh
”This is wonderful what you are doing for the students and giving them the opportunity to share their talents.” – V.V.
“I really enjoy reading the stories/poems each month. As a former health care executive creating a new path in the social impact world these days, reading “We Write Here” submissions – inform, inspire, and ground me oftentimes. Thanks for the work you do and for the platform and visibility you offer to so many creative and talented young and their stories.”- SoJoGo Consulting.
Students have had a hard year. Being able to creatively express themselves and get acknowledgment and encouragement for their talents is one important impact of the project. Sometimes students are in a heavy mindset when they submit writing and it allows us to reach out to the school and make sure the student is getting extra support as needed. We also see many students return to the website to submit again and again. They are dedicated to their work and improving their skills and talents.
Adopt & Adapt
With funding, we could have an awarded section devoted to a specific community. It would be quick to implement and get the word out. Depending on the number of submissions we could publish and award daily. Students are proud to get their work published and have an award for a future college application. Its free for anyone in the community to read and enjoy the writing. It aligns with existing policies and we encourage students to publish with a pen name. It would be great to see more support from school communities and districts for the project.