Penn and Ink

From Laura Henderson (Fall, 1996):

To all interested writers and thinkers...

The hard facts: The Philadelphia public school system stinks. We want to be teachers. We're tired of public education getting a bad rap. So, we'd like to take our own crack at it. We want to see if we can teach.

The Details

This is the third year of an innovative creative writing organization designed to put a little bit of life (and fun, if we're lucky) back into the classroom. We are looking for a select number of creative, excited and motivated people to lead small groups of high school aged students in North and West Philadelphia public high schools. The plan is to get the students writing -- short pieces each week about all sorts of subjects. We want them to start to think critically about their work.

In the past year the group has published a literary magazine featuring students writing and art work entitled Say What! Penn Speaks, and we plan to continue this literary tradition in the upcomming year as well. The main idea, however, is that we simply want to encourage creativity and discussion in the classroom.

This program is quickly expanding, and we need people to help us build it and make it work. This is a chance for us to try our hand at real teaching. This is a chance to stop talking about the problem and start doing something positive about it. But mostly, this is a chance to have fun.

If you are interested in this program, please come to our introductory meeting on Thursday, September 26th at 6:30pm in the Writers House (located on Locust Walk across from Chats), or contact Laura Henderson.

Student work

"I Shall Sing"
I shall sing to the Lord
And praise Him for all
        the good things he has done.
I, too, Sing America
That all my peoples have their freedom
        and we unite as one.
I shall worship the path
That my ancestors walked on
        To be free.
They will not give up
Until the White Man
        will let us be.
No hard feelings,
        No broken hearts.
All this is the strength of my people.
--Brandt Copper (12th grade)

Tough Love
If you are my friend
        then you always must be honest with me,
                even when it hurts;
If you are my friend
        then you must push me forward,
                when I want to quit;
If you are my friend
        then you must acknowledge my faults,
                and help me to correct them;
If you are my friend
        then I know that I can count on you,
                when times are rough;
If you are my friend
        then I must be able to cry around you
                and not be ashamed;
If you are my friend
        then I must be able to share my feelings with you,
                and not offend you;
If you are my friend
        then all these things I will do for you.
--Cory Hopkins (12th grade)