“Sanctuary” is the first word that comes to Writing Club sponsor Diane Dombrowski’s mind when she thinks of the after school gatherings. “I think Writing Club is a place where students come at the end of the week when so much has transpired that they can’t find the downtime… to process it and they can go into a room and they can write about it,” she explains.
“Writing Club is an outlet for me to share with people what I’ve always enjoyed doing alone,” adds senior Peter Bucci. “I’ve been writing creatively for most of my life, and Writing Club gives me a place to share my work with other people who enjoy writing just as much as I do.”
The club meets every other Friday in Mrs. Dombrowski’s room from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Meetings are open to anyone, and consists of participants responding to a creative writing prompt which is read at the beginning and later sharing the pieces they have composed. The prompt is simply a guideline- it can be interpreted in any way the writer chooses, or attendees can choose to write on an entirely different subject. There is only one rule: NEVER criticize your own writing, because writing is art and therefore should be heard and shared in its raw form. “You don’t often get to hear people read their own writing out loud, because most of us either read texts or online articles” Bucci shares. “Getting to hear other people’s written voice, how they intended it to sound, helps you craft your own writing to sound better when spoken aloud.”
Senior Sommer Vanden Huevel says being in the club for the past four years has enabled her to grow as a writer. “It has allowed me to experiment with my voice- cadence, rhythm, pronunciation… by providing a supportive audience full of friends,” she explains.
This is what Mrs. Dombrowski hopes members will take away from being in Writing Club. “There are people championing you who believe in your voice and who honor and support and respect you. …[In a time that maths and sciences have so much emphasis put upon them,] we can’t lose the fact that we are also liberal arts students. …Creativity and art and music and literature also have a place. … [Students] should always be creative in whatever venture. I hope they come away knowing that writing and expressing themselves is a valid outlet and that they can connect to people through writing… A community of writers is extremely valuable. And when they leave high school, maybe they will set up something like that for themselves at the college level,” she expresses.
She started the club years ago, after a student began sharing his poetry with her. “I was teaching… T.S. Elliot and it moved him. The piece that I was reading that day moved him so much that he started bringing in poetry and it kept happening… it was really good poetry, and I said, ‘We need a forum where people can share writings…you’re not an isolated situation and I think lots of students would like a forum to share their writing,’” she says.
But over the years, Writing Club has grown from simply being a forum to share writing to being a release for students to share their thoughts at the end of a stressful week without fear of being judged. In sophomore Thomas Comte’s words, “Writers Club is an escape for me. After a long week, it is nice to get away and write a little and hear other people’s writing.” Vanden Huevel agrees, adding, “[A Writing Club meeting] means detoxing from all my stress, spending time with friends, and improving my creative writing.”
What one word would these members use to describe the club? “Roulette,” says Bucci. “…This “box of chocolates” is part of what makes Writing Club so fun, because you know you’re in for something different every time.”
Comte would describe it as “refreshing”. “[W]hen I need to get out of writer’s block, coming to club just refuels me and keeps me going,” he explains.
To Vanden Huevel, the atmosphere is “blissful.” “[T]he relaxed environment gives me a sense of wellbeing,” she says.
But perhaps, junior Erika Ciminnisi sums it up best: “Writing Club means a time to let go. A time to just escape from everything and allow words to fly from my fingers.”