Here’s Some Cash for the Break

As we gear up for the final stretch of the semester (following Spring Break), we’re always on the lookout for new and fresh writing. It’s always astounding to me how much the students improve over the course of the year, and as such, it’s nearly impossible to showcase every student’s work the way we’d like to on the blog But we do our best. Check out some of the latest:

Emily and Eric

Rabbit” by Keith
Money Line: He form waves like jelly and soft like slush. / The wife falls down and turns to dust. / May the ground eat the roadkill so the blood will not dry.

The Lies I Tell” by Emily
Money Line: I go anywhere I want. / I can ride snow leopards in the Appalachian Mountains. / I can make skyscrapers appear from thin air.

SIlence” by Jammonica
Money Line: But, how are my roars louder than my silences? / My cries speak louder than my sins.

The Future” by Andre
Money Line: There will be no future. Everything will be over. Nobody would be left. The world will blow up. It would be taken over by cyborgs.

I Want to Tell You” by Elyzabeth
Money Line: You are too busy, / running from the tide to see the waves that want to kiss you like an ambulance. / The way you have been dying / for a long time



Tutor Reflections During the Break

Sometimes we take our time spent at Shortridge for granted and don’t necessarily take into account that, because we’re part of Butler University, that we will have a Spring Break. Although we all welcome the break from classes on campus and the routines we all get in to, whether we’re athletes or pharmacy students, I think that I can comfortably speak for most of us when I say that we definitely miss Shortridge. But, to keep everyone up on some of the things we got to see right before school let out for a few weeks, here are a few of our reflections from a powerful day at Shortridge that centered on the idea of going back in time. The responses ranged from the truly touching and emotionally raw to conspiracy theory to flat-out hilarious:

Sarah Hamm: I worked with K –, and her poem was so powerful and full of emotion that it rocked me. I think it rocked a lot of us. She wrote a touching piece about her grandmother. The time traveling prompt led her to think about going back in time and spending more time with her. Her raw emotion blossomed into an amazing poem. She is an awesome writer who is sometimes not comfortable sharing her emotions and I think this poem was huge. She touched a lot of people with it and I think it was a powerful moment for her, her classmates, and us college students

Hayley Adams: Yesterday was super fun because of the mind-blowing conspiracy theories A – shared with Hannah and me. the prompt was so inviting and easy for everyone to relate to and understand that half the fun was just hearing about what the kids enjoy about history!

Logan Spackman: Yesterday I worked with M –, and we had a lot of fun thinking about this prompt. I’d worked with him before, but I found that, on this second go-around, he was much more open and talkative than the time before. That was really encouraging. We worked on a Pete the Panther story, and M – was really into thinking about where he could send this character. He started bringing up the Big Bang, what would that moment look like, and conversely, the end of the universe also, and what that would look like. Could Pete go to these places? He’d write a sentence, then ask me questions about parallel universes, and so on. It got deep. I found that he really liked talking about the possibilities of his story, what might happen, if Pete needed a sidekick, where would a lion dictator named Vincent live etc. I really want some of his work in the magazine, and this would be a good one to have in there.

Elizabeth McGlone: Today’s prompt was awesome! Time travel is something that intrigues most everyone and leaves tons of room for imagination. I worked with E – today and she was super excited about the prompt. She even had seen Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. E – and I both wrote stories, and I wrote a poem. She was still working on her story when I had to leave. I think it was the perfect prompt to achieve the goal of getting at least one piece of writing from everyone and I hope we did!

Compiled by Luke Wortley

Money Lines Week 4-6

The writing is heating up at Shortridge, but the weather just doesn’t seem to want to keep up. The students these past few weeks have delved into some deep poems and extremely creative stories. From the writing-and-guessing game “Two Truths and a Lie” to writing “How To…” poems and guides, the students have branched out of their shells and moved into complex works.

It’s fun to see the confidence of the students grow in their abilities to write… here’s some excerpts from some veteran and rookie writers.

The Lies I Tell” by Emily
Money Line: I can help everyone & stop pain in its tracks. 
I can save the world & be remembered for something great.

Just Fine” by Paula
Money Line: This time/ 
I’m gonna be just fine
/ felt like the end of the world.
Turns out/ 
it was the start of a new life.

Untitled” by Eric S.
Money Line: Fans do not blow air/ 
Heaters don’t give heat/ Stories do not give…something

How To Listen” by Kyla
Money Line: Hear the finch’s symphonies he reinvents Mozart.

Don’t Cut, Cut This” by Jammonica
Money Line: And I’ll write you a letter.
 And I would say, darling, you’re okay. 
I smile when you smile. The whole room 
lights up. Turn that smile upside. 

Spell Trap” by Jaymison
Money Line: Equality/Not ever hearing the word that you/ 
are unique, 
just hearing you are all the same/ 
You’ll never be different.

New Friends, New Knowledge

Time to introduce a new mentor blogger. Everyone say hey to the newest voice that will be contributing to the website as a member of the BU mentor team at Exclusive Ink. Meet Hayley, a junior at Butler majoring in History and English Literature:

There have been some big shoes to fill this semester at Shortridge. As the Butler mentors nervously stood in the corner like we were back in High School, the emotions of the students flooding into the classroom ranged from excitement to sadness as they searched for the faces of their favorite mentors from last year.
Sadly, many of them have either graduated or have had their schedules change. Thankfully, though, the students’ passion and enthusiasm for writing and generally hanging out allowed for some fast friendships to develop with the new Butler mentors. The consensus among the new mentors is that the members of Exclusive Ink really have become our friends.

I guess this is the part where I say something I’ve learned from my first few weeks of being a new Butler mentor. Lesson number one of working with the students? We are totally equal with them. From day one, it was easy to know that the Butler Mentors could learn just as much from the students’ creative strategies. As cliche as it sounds, they’re the ones teaching us to write. I’m confident that this class will become one of the most important learning experiences for me as a mentor and student.

Contributed by Hayley

Writing for Vonnegut

I can’t believe it’s taken us this long to introduce Kurt Vonnegut to Exclusive Ink, although it might be more appropriate to say that we simply re-introduced him to Shortridge High School. Vonnegut actually went there, and so did his father. He wrote for the school newspaper and then went on to become one of America’s most imaginative and celebrated writers. Often combining humor with social criticism, Vonnegut painted modern landscapes through a speculative lens. He asked us to consider our present by considering the future and the past — sometimes all three at once.


He continues to be an inspiration for a lot of our work as mentors in our own writing, so we wanted to share that with the students. It wasn’t much of a surprise when we got some truly imaginative works of fiction and poetry about all sorts of futuristic worlds.

To see the exercise, click here for the PDF, and be sure to check out our regularly updated archive of fiction and poetry exercises by clicking on the Writing Exercises tab at the top.

For more information on Kurt Vonnegut, here are a few related links:
Biography from the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
“Harrison Bergeron” and “The Big Trip Up Yonder” – the stories that inspired this prompt

Money Lines, Weeks 1-3

We’ve fallen a bit behind on posting these, but we’ve had so many submissions to the website from our students that it sometimes becomes hard to pick some lines that we think best reflect the work we’ve been producing together at Shortridge. This time is no different. With all the snow delays and closings, it appears that all of our students are writing on their own time, and writing a lot. And some of our brand-new students this semester are getting in on the action. Enjoy some excerpts from the first couple weeks of the Spring 2014 edition of Exclusive Ink:

“I Don’t Believe in Death” by Daizjha
Money Line: Spending time with the ones you love became a task and now you have to ask yourself why you let us bend.

“The Family Tree” by Kyla
Money Line: Fire in the eyes, and say your goodbyes. The scythe is swinging, you’re in for a reaping. The metal is hot, the warmth is sweet, forgive and forget or die and retreat.

“I See” by Quanzell
Money Line: I see a half-done hairline / I see a jar full of wine

“Concerto” by Paula
Money Line: All / caught up in my concerto / sweltering beneath stage lights / you don’t get to cheer at the end / It’s not your show anymore.

A New Word” by Zuri and Porche
Money Line: The / ballistic words sang in / a monotone voice, Neologism / comes into play as we / find a new word for / love.

“After ‘Train in the Snow’ by Claude Monet – 1875, Oil on Canvas” by Mickael
Money Line: The train looked like it was / going to run somebody over and / people were trying to get on it before / it leaves.

First Impressions, From Home and Abroad

The first couple weeks of Shortridge, though pock-marked with a few cancellations and delays, have been incredibly successful for the Writing in the Schools Spring 2014 team. We also have a first this semester; we have a student from another country. Jack is from Australia, and the kids are really taking to him. But we also have a whole host of new Butler mentors of all ages and experiences, ranging from a freshman psych major to senior creative writing majors, that have been contributing every single day. The amount of quality work that the students produce is always amazing, and this semester is no different. Even though this is the first experience with Shortridge for many of our mentors, they have plenty to say about it. Here are some of the general impressions we got from the first week.


Jack Wachtel: The experiences I have been making up until this point are creating such positive memories to take back to Australia. I have gained such an insight to a diverse style of schooling and the type of influence it has on the students, both good and bad. Thursday I was able to work with both D – and M –. I had talked to the girls previously but this time round it was nice to dig deeper and find out more about them.The pleasing thing is that Butler Writers to all the students I have met is a safe haven for them to open up and just be themselves.

Olivia Nelson: On Thursday, I had the pleasure of working with S – . Although we went through the prompt really quickly, as she is quite a fast thinker and fantastic story writer, we came up with a fascinating poem. However, what was even more astonishing was the fact that I learned that she is a fantastic story-writer and finds one of her best talents is storytelling. We actually worked on one of her stories that she had been focusing on for the past few days about herself as a singer and pianist. Although it was in its beginning stages, I see it blossoming into much more. It is amazing to reflect on how these students are getting so in-tune with their creative side.

Logan Spackman: Today was my first day working with a larger group of students. I had four at the table for a little while. And I was really excited to find that my group had the ability to feed off one another. We also got an excuse to talk about things that mattered to us, and the things we could do without. That sort of talk is extremely valuable as we consider not only the community we’re building at Exclusive Ink, but the larger community we’re contributing to in Indianapolis. I’m consistently struck by the dialogue these students are willing to entrust in us, and I’m excited to see how it evolves and grows over the course of the next few months.

Sarah Hamm: I had an awesome experience today with N – and R –. We got work done and we had a really good time doing it. I felt like I got to know them a little bit better, too. R  – struggled a little bit with coming up with a poem, but I feel like she went through a lot of exploration about what she wanted to say and how she wanted to say it, which I think is a big part of poetry. Altogether, I would say that this was a successful day at Shortridge.

Compiled by Luke Wortley

Digging Out, Digging In

In case you weren’t around, Indianapolis had a pretty crazy start to the winter season. Snow, snow, thaw, more snow, tons of snow, and then flurries. IPS was out of session for a while, Butler University was closed for a lot of the semester break. I lost power and heat. It has been an unorthodox beginning to a new semester, one that I think is egregiously mislabeled as “spring” semester.

All that aside, we’ve dug out of the snow, and we’re back at Shortridge with a new crop of diverse mentors. But before I tell you all about that, a few scenes from the end of the fall semester.

If you’ve kept up with us the past two-and-a-half years, you know that every year we throw a holiday party at the end of the fall semester. This is when we really pull out all the stops: spiral ham (hand-carved!), homemade desserts, soft drinks, and presents, of course.

christmas party

Though some kids may scoff at the idea of getting a book for the holidays, our students seem to love it. Some popular titles this year: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac, among others.

The holiday party this year was a resounding success. The room was packed, and we got a really nice group photo out of all the organized chaos.

shs group photo 2013

But now that the blizzard is over, school is back in session, which means Exclusive Ink is officially back in session, too. Be sure to check out the Our Team section of the site to meet all the new mentors as well as the newest on Exclusive Ink, our group’s official blog for student work.

More to come after the first week. In the meantime — in case you missed it — here’s a link to a short video documentary about our mission at Shortridge High School:

Shortridge, In Brief

YouTube Preview Image

Anyone who has ever wondered what goes on during Exclusive Ink — all the stuff before the big readings at the end, all the stuff that we try to bring to you in the student work and the blog updates — this is for you. Thanks to Bob Barrick, a senior English major at Butler (and one of our Fall 2013 volunteers) for putting this together to capture, in brief, a day at Exclusive Ink.