levi weinhagen and studentsA writing apprenticeship program at North View Middle School recently gave students a unique opportunity to step into the spotlight and hone their talents as young authors.

Last week, 300 seventh- and eighth-graders at North View participated in the program, where they received individual mentoring from three local professional authors representing different writing genres. Students helped design the program by choosing the genres they were most interested in earlier this year. When those survey results were tallied, comedy writing, comics/zine writing, and spoken word poetry emerged as the top categories.

Under the tutelage of authors Levi Weinhagen (comedy), Fiona Avocado (comics) and Tou Saiko Lee (spoken word poetry), students spent an engaging week learning about their chosen genre, creating new pieces within that genre, and sharing their work with classmates.

In partnership with COMPAS, a Minnesota education and arts nonprofit, the writing apprenticeship program at North View sought to provide students with an authentic writing experience—one where they could develop an understanding of concepts and tools used within a specific genre, see author/artist as a viable occupation, and experience writing as a joyful and positive activity.

Mary Lillestol, literacy coordinator at North View, said student feedback from the program was positive, with one student noting, “it was our chance to be heard.”

“This opportunity provided students with the confidence and competence to share their stories in a way that was meaningful to them,” Lillestol added.

Weinhagen, Avocado and Lee will each select three students’ work to be published in the annual COMPAS collection of student writing. Additionally, all interested students have the opportunity to share their writing at North View’s One World, Many Stories event on May 25. 

TOP PHOTO: Levi Weinhagen, a professional comedy writer from Minnesota, works with students at North View Middle School during a writing apprenticeship program on May 11. 

BOTTOM PHOTOS: Fiona Avocado (left photo) works with North View Middle School students as they create comics during a writing apprenticeship program on May 11, while Tou Saiko Lee (right photo) mentors students about spoken word poetry. 

fiona avocado and students

tou saiko lee and student