Workshop Brings Middle School Writers Together

The eight students sharing a few tables in John Jay Middle School’s library classroom had just closed their laptops after a four-hour online workshop. Yet, they all looked energized and fresh. What was going on …?

The students had found their happy place—a conference for middle school students organized by Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES’ Curriculum Center called Writing with Grit: Young Authors Middle Level Colloquium.

It brought together middle school students who love to write from across the region, including Beacon, Croton, Hastings, Katonah-Lewisboro, Lakeland, Ossining and Pawling school districts. “All of the participants were recommended by their English language arts teacher,” said teacher Kathy O’Neil. “These are students with a gift for writing.”

Four John Jay students had signed up for the workshop Well, that Was Awkward! How to Talk (and Write) About the Hard, the Weird and the Uncomfortable Things in Life. “We talked about why it’s important for everyday life topics like queer identities, religion and climate change to be talked about in writing,’ said eighth-grader Sophia Cheng.

“They all said they want to do it again next year,” said O’Neil. That’s a rave review from middle school students.