Celebrating the Art of Writing

at the 13th annual Young Writers' Conference

By: Kristi Spurgeon

Walla Walla College’s new Administration Building was put to good use last weekend when the English Department hosted the 13th annual Young Writers’ Conference.

Thirteen students attended the workshop, designed to improve their writing skills and encourage them to explore the art of language. The students, from Mt. Ellis Academy, Livingstone Adventist Academy, and Tri-Cities Junior Academy, were selected based on the short stories they submitted when applying to the conference.

Each year the conference focuses on a distinct style of writing. With an emphasis on narrative writing this year, Sunday’s morning workshops covered the purpose of a story, plot development, and character development. In the afternoon, students divided into groups to practice their new skills with the help of volunteer English majors. The final session, held in the writing lab, brought the day’s lessons into play as the students improved their originally submitted stories. The stories will later be compiled into an anthology and presented back to the participants.

“Putting together a Young Writers’ Conference is a lot of work for all of us—faculty, staff, and often our college students. But we think the investment is worth the effort, if we can celebrate the art of writing and encourage these writers of the future,” says Gary Wiss, professor of English and lead presenter for the writing workshop.

Still, the weekend wasn’t all hard work. The conference began Friday evening with supper and ice-breaker games, followed by worship with Bev Beem. On Saturday afternoon students were treated to a tour of the Whitman Mission, led by history professor Monty Buell. Later that evening they attended the Drama Department’s annual Festival of One Acts. On Sunday, students attended a movie showing in the new film lab in the Ad Building. These young writers were the first group to fully utilize the area of the building specifically developed for the English Department.

“Just wanted to take a minute to thank all of you who made the weekend happen for our students,” writes Anthony Oucharek, principal of Tri-Cities Junior Academy, in an e-mail to the English Department. “We appreciate all the things that the college does to involve our students and help give them a glance at the choices that are out there for them. God bless you.”

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