Want a concise article about what the Writing in the Schools Butler/Shortridge project is all about? Look no further than today’s Indianapolis Star. Thanks to Alyssa and Danese for working with us to get the word out.

They’re getting on the write track
by Alyssa Karas, Star correspondent

New this school year, volunteers from Butler University are offering an after-school creative writing program to tutor students and just maybe coax another Kurt Vonnegut out of Shortridge High School.

“We really think that the freedom of that after-school activity is going to be different from the classroom,” said Shortridge English teacher Christine Muller. “A little louder maybe, and that’s going to be fun for the kids.”

Undergraduates and master of fine arts students visit Shortridge twice a week for three or four hours of mentoring with the students. Their goal is to revive the school’s literary journal.

“We’re hoping to not only sort of tutor Shortridge students who may need help with their writing, but also set up a creative writing group,” said Chris Speckman, the Butler MFA student overseeing the project.

In addition to sharpening students’ expository writing skills, project leaders want to give students an opportunity to pursue written and spoken-word poetry, as well as fiction writing.

Muller said writing is difficult for many students. English teachers at Shortridge have about 160 students, and an after-school program will help to ease the burden. Not to mention it could help students ace academic placement tests and prepare for college.

“We want kids writing,” she said. “Both kids who are good at it and kids who want to be good at it.”

At least 20 Butler students signed up to mentor at Shortridge. Many of the Butler participants are enrolled in a course called Writing in the Schools, and the program at Shortridge will serve as a real-life example.

“We don’t want to come in there and act like we’re the boss,” Speckman said. “We’re there to help the Shortridge teachers and administrators get what they need from the students.”

With extra help, Muller said teachers look forward to seeing students participate in activities outside the classroom.

“Shortridge has had a long tradition of literary magazines, and we hope to reinstitute it,” she said.

In addition to Vonnegut, Shortridge counts among its alums Dan Wakefield, author of “Going All The Way,” and Madelyn Pugh, head writer on the “I Love Lucy” show.

If the fall semester goes well, organizers from Butler and Shortridge hope to keep the program running long term.

“It’s a way to show them that writing is all over the place, and it’s something they know how to do,” Speckman said. “It’s just a matter of coaxing them and getting them to have some fun.”