Have you wondered how Belmont Youth Writers was created? Take a look at this article we wrote about the writing classes we taught over the summer.
We watched as COVID-19 hit China and Italy. We saw the effect it had on Seattle, and then California. It seemed surreal, like a dream, as if we were living in a faraway bubble outside of it all. One by one, schools across the country and around the world began to close. Still, we went to school, sat at our desks, chatted with our friends. Soon, the pandemic crept closer and closer, impossible to ignore. It seemed as though everyone was talking about the coronavirus, in the school hallways, at home, everywhere we went. A petition to temporarily shut down our schools circled around. In the middle of March, the Belmont Public Schools finally closed, with the reopening date being pushed farther back each time we checked.
For weeks, we students stayed at home, living with our parents, siblings, and even grandparents. Especially for the first few weeks, we worried constantly. Some of our parents still went to work every day, and those who didn’t worked harder than ever at home. There was stress and tension in the atmosphere that hadn’t been present before. We were anxious for our families, our friends, our neighbors…our community. At this time of uncertainty, we realized that we, as teenagers, were actually quite fortunate—at home, we could take care of ourselves; for school, we could find online materials and keep ourselves motivated. But, what about younger kids in our town?
Some of Belmont’s children were spending most of their time alone; their parents could be workers at the front line, or essential employees. Others may have endless meetings to attend and work to complete. Many younger kids were also left with little to no communication with their peers and teachers. And, they didn’t have enough material to occupy their attention while their parents were working.
We, the Belmont Youth Writers, decided to begin teaching free writing lessons as a way to give parents peace of mind, as their kids would be occupied and productive for one hour each week. It’s a way for us to get to know younger students in our town, and teach them something new in a comfortable, familiar environment! Our classes are customized to meet the needs of students at each grade-level. We hold six different classes per week, separated by grade level, with each student attending one. Depending on the age of the students, we teach different styles such as narrative, poetry, persuasive, and essay writing, among others.