Archive for Student

2014 WPWP Continuity Event

Title: 2014 WPWP Continuity Event
Location: 5131 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, University of Pittsburgh
Description: Opportunity for teacher-consultants who participated in the 2014 Summer Institute for Teachers to gather, reflect on their writing, inquiry, and leadership, and figure out next steps. Anthologies developed this summer to be distributed.
Start Time: 9:00
Date: 2014-11-01
End Time: 12:00

The Students Speak

2013 101 Screening flyerFor the past two years, the Western Pa Writing Project has been a proud partner in Hear Me 101: A Social Advocacy Media Production Program, sponsored by The Heinz Endowments and supported by the Grable Foundation. This year in collaboration with Hear Me, CREATE Lab, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and the Consortium for Public Education, the WPWP has worked with students in Clairton, McKeesport, F.U.S.E. (Wilkinsburg), and Steel Valley on the writing and production of short documentary films, canvassing a range of issues from school attendance and dress code policies to reputation and safety. IMG_8086

Please join the Hear Me 101 community on May 21st for a special screening and panel discussion.

Hear Me 101 presents…

The Students Speak: A Presentation of Short Films from Students who Want to Inspire Change.   

May 21st, 6PM, Melwood Screening Room — 477 Melwood Avenue, Pgh, PA 15213.

IMG_8064Following the screening of student films, panelists who work in the fields of youth, media, and advocacy will discuss the theme of youth as stakeholders in their education and the role that art and media plays in empowerment. WPWP fellows, Michelle King and Matthew Luskey, will moderate the panel discussion.IMG_8054

All are welcome. The event is free. Hors D’oeuvres and light refreshments will be served.

Pittsburgh Young Writers “Rock” in National Competition

Matt, Karen, and Gold Key WinnerBy Karen Howard, 1983 WPWP Fellow

Every September the quest for gold begins for young writers in Allegheny County.  Students, grades 7-12, submit written works in eleven categories to the 90-year-old Scholastic Writing Awards Competition.  Since 2011, the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project has hosted the Pittsburgh Regional competition for the national contest. This year the Pittsburgh region received over 300 entries, spanning nine different genres of writing and nearly 1,000 pages.

In 2012, three Pittsburgh gold key winners won silver keys at the National level in New York.  One young lady won a scholarship to Kenyon College. This year Pittsburgh young writers won six national gold keys in New York, including an American Voices Medal in poetry and a thousand dollar New York Life scholarship. See the list of National Scholastic Art and Writing Award Medalists. The national celebration for the Scholastic Writing Awards will be on May 31, 2013 at Carnegie Music Hall in New York City.

We are proud of all the young writers who participated locally and nationally. With your support, the WPWP will continue to grow the Scholastic Writing Awards and other community-based writing programs. Thank you for helping to make Pittsburgh such a writing-rich city!

Scholastic Writing Awards Celebration

On Saturday March 2, 2013, the Western Pa Writing Project hosted the Scholastic Writing Awards for the Pittsburgh Region. Over 80 young writers, family members, and teachers attended the event at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium on the University of Pittsburgh campus.

Dr. Richard Donato, School of Education, welcomed students and their families with a poem his daughter Claire, now a published poet and teacher at Fordham University, had written as a seven year old. Michael Simms, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Autumn House Press, gave the keynote address. In his address, Simms welcomed the young writers into the sacred trust of poets and artists that has existed for centuries. 

Gold, Silver, and Honorable Mention awards were distributed to students from schools throughout Allegheny and Westmoreland County. To see the full list of award winners, please visit the WPWP’s Scholastic Writing Awards page. Gold Key winners have advanced to the national level. Results from the national competition will be available on the Arts and Writing website on March 15, 2013. Good luck to the gold key winners, and congratulations to all the courageous writers who submitted their words to the contest.

To see additional photographs from the Awards Celebration, please visit the WPWP’s Flickr page.

The Scholastic Writing Awards contest and celebration would not be possible without the support of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education and the dedicated work of Karen Howard, 1989 WPWP Fellow. Karen spent many hours communicating with young writers, judges, and members of the community.

If you appreciate the Scholastic Writing Awards and other WPWP-supported events, please consider making a donation through the National Writing Project. All donations are tax deductible.

Second Grade Poets, Architectural Students, and Radio Broadcasters

By Shannon Shupak, 2012 WPWP Fellow

Second graders at The Environmental Charter School call themselves poets. That is because over the last few months, these students have been reading, writing, and ultimately enjoying a wide range of poems. Expressing themselves through poetry has been both an educational and rewarding experience. Best of all, they were able to cross-connect poetry with architecture and public broadcasting and gain a better appreciation of the community.

Early in the poetry unit, Louise Sturgess and volunteers from Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) visited ECS second graders and connected poetry to the architecture of Park Place School (Environmental Charter School’s K-3 building). ECS believes in place-based learning, so it was a natural fit to study the lower school building since it is a member of the National Register of Historical Places. Students toured the building and learned about egg and dart molding, stained glass, and other architectural elements of the 110-year old structure.

Afterwards, students reflected on specific areas of the school and wrote poems about the architectural details. When they were finished, their poems were affixed next to photographs of the elements and placed on pubic display. This experience exposed the young poets to the melding of rhyme and personification with architectural details of their school building.

After the writing process was complete, the poets had the opportunity to share their work at the First Annual ECS Poetry Slam. Students competed to earn a spot reciting their poem on the Saturday Light Brigade program broadcasted from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Nine students shared their work live, on-air with Larry Berger, the Founder and Executive Director.

The young poets were energized by this experience and are looking forward to future partnerships with SLB in our next unit: persuasive writing.

Shannon Shupak, 2012 WPWP Fellow, teaches 2nd grade literacy at the Environmental Charter School with coteacher, Carly Catello.

Summer Young Writers Institutes

Summer is coming, and that means Young Writers Institutes in Oakland, Mt. Lebanon, and Pine-Richland. The YWI dates and registration forms are available on the Young Writers website.

If you are a WPWP Fellow or creative writer interested in teaching at one of the 2013 Summer Young Writers Institute sites, please visit our Opportunities page for more information. Intern applications are also available.

Scholastic Writing Awards – Allegheny County

As the country’s oldest and most prestigious awards program for creative teenagers, the Scholastic Awards provide unprecedented opportunities for the nation’s most creative teens through recognition, exhibition, publication and scholarships. The Awards competition also seeks to recognize those outstanding teachers who support their students work in the classroom.

Please share this unique opportunity with your colleagues and students.  All submissions from students in grades 7-12 are eligible for local awards and recognition at a celebration event to be held in the Frick Fine Arts Building at the University of Pittsburgh on March 2, 2013. Gold key winners for the Pittsburgh region will also advance to the national competition.  For more information about the awards and recognition program, please  visit the Western Pa Writing Project website at: At our website, you will also find more information about how students can submit entries online for the Pittsburgh region.


On Saturday, November 3, 2012, the WPWP launched a five-day fundraiser with Barnes and Noble. If you made purchases in the Barnes and Noble South Hills store or online, thank you for helping to launch a strong Day 1. Nearly $3,000.00 in purchases were credited to the WPWP, netting $600 in donations. 



The Book Fair runs through November 8, 2012.  Please encourage your friends and colleagues to utilize the ease of online ordering while also supporting the Western Pa Writing Project.

To support the Book Fair with online purchases, visit:

If you are a NEW Barnes and Noble customer, when you get to the Payment Section and you are entering your credit card information, at the bottom, just above the green “Continue Checkout” button, there is a box to click that says “Check this box if this is a Bookfair Order”. Check the box, enter the Bookfair ID# 10911584, then continue to checkout.

If you are a RETURNING customer (your credit card information is stored), when you get to the Payment Section, click “CHANGE” on the right hand side. It brings up the credit card information screen – scroll to the bottom and follow the above instructions as if you were a new customer.

Purchases on ANY product will apply to our Book Fair.  You can also use your Barnes and Noble membership discount. Just make sure to click the Book Fair box and enter the code (10911584) at the bottom of the screen in the Payment Section.

Special thanks to Jane Miller, Stacy Biggs, Christine Wolfe, Marilyn Bates, and members of the Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra for their in-store support.

WPWP and the Hear Me 101 Project

The Western Pa Writing Project is a proud partner in the Hear Me 101 Project, an exciting new initiative being piloted by CMU’s Hear Me.  In close collaboration with Hear Me, the Consortium for Public Education, and Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, WPWP Fellows Sue Carris, Nick Kaczmarek, Michelle King and Matthew Luskey are working with students in Clairton City, McKeesport, Steel Valley and Woodland Hills High Schools on the writing, producing and promotion of short digital documentaries that investigate important issues relevant to the students’ communities.  Upon completion of the documentaries, student groups will design a campaign around the video to voice their messages publicly to help promote and inspire social change.  In addition to offering Saturday writing workshops and making school visits, the WPWP has contributed to a workbook manual that will be published by CMU’s CREATE.

Stay tuned for more updates about this important collaboration.