June 18, 2015

UW Summer High School Institute

In 1985, I was a high school sophomore, and I was honored to be invited to the very first Summer High School Institute at the University of Wyoming.  I can’t express how wonderful it was.

First of all, I was an emotional wreck.  I had just broken up with my first boyfriend, and, you know, my childhood. At HSI we had small group where we would get together and talk about our emotional lives. It was the first therapy I had in my life, and it probably saved me.

And the amazing classes I took.  It’s three weeks long, and as part of it you take college courses.  I was introduced to N. Scott Momaday and Chinua Achebe and got to experience Numerical Imaginings. And I got FREE BOOKS (which I still have)! 

And my fellow instituters were and still are amazing.  Pete Simpson Jr, Al Simpson’s nephew, was in that class. They all were so smart and amazing.  I haven’t kept in touch with them, but now I wish I would have. This year, we're celebrating the 30th anniversary of HSI.

And now, they invited me back to teach a writers workshop, which I did yesterday.  It was so great! The kids are whip smart and so much fun.  Their creativity oozes out of them, let me tell you! They have bright futures ahead of them.

There were two classes, and I planned three exercises for each but was only able to accomplish two in the hour we had.  First, I took the first couple sentences of some famous books and then they added sentences and passed them to their left and added to other stories. So much fun! Then they interviewed each other and wrote each others’ Life Story on a Postcard, a la Michael Kimball.  The third exercise was going to be writing their own life story in third person as a fairy tale, but we didn’t get to that.

All I can say is: You people who are cynical about the younger generations, you shouldn't be.  This happens every time I work with young people. I realize how amazing and hopeful and positive they are. They were all avid readers and great writers and motivated and wicked smart.

Our future is so bright, I gotta wear shades!

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