Being a new student in the Literary arts department, I’m curious of what other people think of it, or how people think it’s changed. So I sat down with a few people, and asked them some questions about their experience, why they chose this instead of all the other arts in this school, and if they would change anything about this department?"--Piper Stuip, 6th grade
Being a new student in the Literary arts department, I’m curious of what other people think of it, or how people think it’s changed. So I sat down with a few people, and asked them some questions about their experience, why they chose this instead of all the other arts in this school, and if they would change anything about this department?
First, I interviewed Grace Triantafyllos, this is her second year in the Literary arts department, and her third year at OSA, she spent her first year in Instrumental, but then switched to literary arts. Triantafyllos talked a lot about how her one year in Instrumental Music was “not enjoyable” and she’s glad that she switched.
Piper Stuip: Do you think that the literary arts department has changed in a positive or negative way, or not at all?
Grace Triantafyllos: I think it's changed in a positive way, because now, we are… a little more organized, as far as our classes go, since we have a fiction class, and a class for creative non-fiction, poetry and journalism, there’s to separate classes instead of just one.
PS: did last year help you to become a better writer?
GT: I think I definitely did better with journalism skills, learning how to interview people, and I got… better at sharing my work with other people, because we have readings, and things like that, and I have the chance to publish my nonfiction stuff, online on the telegraph… and I've gotten better at doing peer edit… yeah! And i’ve, I don’t know if I've gotten better at poetry, but to be fair, I don’t think I had written poetry before I came here, so *laughs* I mean it, helped me come out of my comfort zone more than anything else, that’s the main takeaway!
Sorry! That was a really long speech!
PS: *laughs* Yeah, poetry was probably one of the only things that got me in *laughs*
GT: My poetry I literally wrote a haiku about how pigeons fly away at the same time cause i'm just… *both laughs* that strange! But y’know…
PS: That sounds wonderful! (laughs)
GT: Thank you.
PS: What do you like the most about Literary Arts?
PS: Oooh… that's a hard one… well I like that there’s time set aside for me, like… two hours almost everyday where I can just sit and write, and work on my craft, because, outside of school, I procrastinate too much, go on instagram too much, and don’t get… like any writing done, like I barely write outside of school, unless it’s like a writing assignment, so I think it’s good that it kind of, it gets me to be writing, cause I, I like writing, I enjoy writing, I just don’t know how to set aside time to do it, so this, and yeah, (laughs).
GT: Yeah, and, if you could change to any other emphasis, what would it be?
PS: Oooh! If I could switch emphasis? Oh my god! Vocal, all the way! I auditioned for vocal, when I was first trying to get into the school… I was not good… at my audition I literally, forgot all my technique, and I didn’t know how to sign read, I still don’t, it was a trainwreck! (laughs) It was the scariest experience of my life, and you know… of course, I didn’t get in, I went into instrumental instead, which I HATED so much! So then I came here! And If I didn’t switch to vocal, I would probably switch to fashion design, just because I like to be able to like, make clothing and dresses and stuff like that, but mainly vocal singing, I would say is like my biggest passion, in my life, but I don’t think I have the skills and commitment to go to OSA for that...
PS: No!! It’s ok! Where you in, I mean we know this but, were you in an art before this?
GT: Yes, I played jazz drums, instrumental music. And I’ve been playing drums since I was almost four years old, and I never really loved, never really enjoyed it. But I wanted to come here and I knew that it was my only chance of getting in, so I was like ‘ok! If vocal doesn’t work out,’ which I knew it wouldn’t, ‘I would just…’ this is what I would have to fall back on, and then I can try again, because once im in It would be a little easier. And then that's what I thought, but…
PS: For the last question. Do you enjoy this class in all?
GT: Yes, yes I do. I’m definitely so glad that I switched, I feel like… if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here right now, I would have left as soon as 7th grade was over, gone somewhere else, because I didn’t like instrumental, now, I’m in a class with people who all love writing so much, and I meet all these creative, intelligent people, whom have the same goals in writing as I do, and I just… get to sit there and work on something that I love doing, so… yeah!
Then I interviewed Milo Trejo. He is in the 7th grade and is also a veteran in the Literary arts department, Trejo talks about how he originally planned on auditioning for the visual arts department, but he says that was also because he “didn’t know that there were really that many more arts.” but when he figured out about the literary arts department, he thought “Definitely!” as he says in our interview.
PS: Do you think you’ve become a better writer because of last year’s experience?
Milo Trejo: Yes, definitely because at the beginning of last year, well when I look back I’m like, WHAT WAS I THINKING, and then when I look back in 8th grade, I will be like oof, what was I thinking, but I still became a better writer. And I think I really owe that to literary arts program.
PS: If you could switch to any other department, what would it be?
MT: I would change to visual because that was actually what I originally planned to be in, but… that was also because I didn't know there were any other arts… but then I figured out about literary arts and I was like ‘oh definitely literary arts’ because I’ve always loved writing, and I just wanted to give it a shot, and when I got in I just got really excited.
PS: Do you enjoy this class in all?
MT: Yeah! I really do because, It’s like, I get to meet new people, I get to do writing which is the thing that I love, there is just no cons.
And last but not least for the veterans, I interviewed Trevor Walton. He is also a 7th grader in the literary arts department, Walton talks about how the teachers in the literary arts department, help the students grow with their writing, and how they teach more than one thing, there is variety.
PS: Do you think that the literary arts department has changed in a positive or negative way, or not at all?
Trevor Walton: I think It’s changed in a positive way, It's just good to see more people in the class, because last year was our first time, and we only had a few 8th graders, we had lots of 6th graders, and we basically had one 7th grader. But now we have a mix, it’s a perfect balance, because 6th graders can work with other 6th graders, and 8th graders can work with 7th graders. So Literary arts has improved over the years. And I’m just excited to see how it goes on.
PS: What do you like the most about Literary arts?
TW: The thing that I really like about literary arts is that we’re able to share our writing, because a lot of times we might not be able to (as writers) we may not be able to have an audience, or someone we really want to share our writing too, but in Lit arts you are able to share it to people,
And just an audience that you’re able to share it with, AND in lit arts you’re able to get help from people who experience what you had before, and if you don’t know what to write, than, you are surrounded by people who, have that too so you are able to get help from that. So you are surrounded by people who have the same experience as you and surrounded by people who can help you to become a better writer.
PS: Do you enjoy this class in all?
TW: I really enjoy this class, because I learned a lot from Ms. Karnes, yeah she, teaches a lot of interesting things like greek mythology, make your own adventure stories, how to interview, and all these parts made me realize that I don’t have to be a poet. I could be a book author, I could be a, an interviewer for the news, and with all my skills I've learned in there, like fiction, like nonfiction, and just put my poetry skills in together. I just feel like I can make a great effect, and just make my poetry and my writing speak out to people. So coming to this class is just really helpful to me, and I get to meet talented, intelligent writers like me.
I then Interviewed Isabella Schainker, a new literary arts, Isabella had heard about OSA through her small obsession with Zendaya, while looking into the school, she found the literary arts department. And here she is.
PS: How did you find out about the OSA literary arts department?
Isabella Schainker: I had heard about OSA, and how it was a great school, I was also a fan of Zendaya the actress, so… I looked into the school, and I heard, I was looking into all the classes and heard that they had a literary arts program, and I knew that I liked writing, so I was like, ‘oh well yeah! I’ll give it a shot!” and here I am!
PS: Is there anything you think could change about the literary arts department?
IS: I feel like something that could happen, that would probably be really cool, it’s just an idea but if a highschooler came in once a month from their class, and told us about what they are working on, and how they were doing, and how they were improving, and like, give us tips, because they’ve gone through it before.
PS: Cool! And if you could switch to any other art, what would it be?
IS: Visual! I applied for visual as well, and I got into the wait list, so, that would be the art I would switch to.
PS: In just these first few weeks, do you think you have improved as a writer?
IS: Yeah. I feel like I’ve learned a little bit more about journalism, and a little bit more about fiction, and characterization.
PS: Last question, what are your wishes for the first year?
IS: I think my wishes are to improve with my writing, I feel like I’ve got a strong base, but I want to build up my skills and I'm also just excited to be apart of the writing community.
PS: That’s great!
And last but not least, I interviewed Amelia Whitcomb, a new teacher in the literary arts department. Amelia teaches fiction, she studied visual arts in Vancouver for three years, she was already into writing before, but she just became a writing teacher this year.
PS: How did you find out about this program?
Amelia Whitcomb: I was introduced to OSA and its Literary Arts Program by Ms. Karnes. She and I went to grad school together and have been friends for years. I’d been hearing stories from her for years about her talented kids, and then was brought in to help with auditions. Once there was an opening in the department, she inquired if I was interested, knowing my own writing background and my experience with education. The rest, as they say, is history.
PS: Did you teach writing before this?
AW: I taught creative writing through an Oakland-based company that brought creative writing after school programs to various schools around the Bay Area. I’ve also worked as a tutor for years, and have tutored students in creative writing, as well as in other subjects.
PS: If you were to teach another art, what would it be?
AW: I would teach visual art for sure. I went to art school for three years right out of high school, focusing on printmaking primarily. I still tutor students in art and art history, among other things.
PS: Did you do any other art before writing?
AW: As I mentioned, I went to art school in Vancouver, British Columbia for three years and worked in a variety of media including printmaking, painting, sculpture, drawing, and photography. I still draw on my own from time to time. I also was in a few plays in high school, but I would hardly call myself an actor by any stretch of the imagination.
PS: What is your experience as a writer?
AW: I’ve been writing or playing around with text pretty much all of my life. Even when I was at art school, I made text-based art! After getting my undergraduate degree in anthropology, I tried to figure out what kind of marketable skills I had, and writing was the one that seemed the most viable. I ended up working as a food writer and eventually the editor-in-chief for a series of fine dining websites around the country. Working there reinstilled my passion for writing, so I decided to go to graduate school to hone my skills. At California College of Art I rediscovered my love for fiction and started working on a novel.
After graduation, I was accepted to a couple writing residencies, one in Wyoming and another in Norway, where I had the opportunity to work on different writing projects and meet fellow writers and artists..I also started collaborating with a couple filmmaker friends of mine on various screenplays for films they wanted to produce. They made one of our screenplays into a short film, which garnered some critical success and awards at a variety of film festivals around the world. We’re currently working on a feature length version of the short film, and are in discussions with a producer for Netflix who has expressed interest in it. I’m currently working on a screenplay with another friend of mine, and am always hoping to find the time to return to my novel some day.
In all, the literary arts department, seems to be a place where people can feel welcomed, and able to share their work. It’s not a place where you feel restricted to tell a story, which is a great environment for writers.