Spoiler Alert We’ve Never Actually Been to Hi School

Cover Art by Mingus Schoffman

Cover Art by Mingus Schoffman

Naomi Saldanha, Staff Writer

COVID-19 has been tough on everyone, especially those in school. Teachers and students alike are trying their best to navigate online learning, which has made it harder for students to really engage with their classes. That’s why English teacher Kathleen Rowley has decided to publish a book called Spoiler Alert We’ve Never Actually Been to Hi School, a collection of poems, letters, and other types of creative writing, written by her freshman English students.

“When you look back on this year, there are so many negative things and all these things missed out on, so I wanted my students to have one good thing to look back on from this year; one meaningful milestone,” Mrs. Rowley said.

With this in mind, and after seeing how creative and funny her freshman English students are, Mrs. Rowley came up with the idea for this creative-writing book. She managed to get a grant from the site DonorsChoose, where one anonymous donor paid for the entire cost of the book. Thanks to this generous stranger, Mrs. Rowley was able to go through with her idea of creating a book with her students.

Mrs. Rowley’s freshman English classes started their creative writing unit in early January, right after winter break. Mrs. Rowley had her students read texts written from the perspectives of writers with diverse backgrounds, including authors of different races, sexualities, and gender identities. Using these samples, the students came up with a concept to commit to and then began their own works of creative writing.

In total, every student wrote five different creative writing pieces, each in a different form such as an open letter or a list poem. From these five works, each student chose the one they were the proudest of, improved it, and submitted it to be compiled to create Spoiler Alert We’ve Never Actually Been to Hi School.

The students each chose a topic that was meaningful to them, resulting in a variety of pieces. These pieces range from discussing a student’s love of tacos to another student’s struggle with self-harm. Each work of creative writing was meaningful in its own way and allowed the students to candidly express themselves.

“Creative writing really allows me to express myself, but in a fun way,” said Caelyn Salzmann, a freshmen in one of Mrs. Rowley’s classes.

Caelyn spoke about how it was difficult to come up with an idea at first but that once she did, it all came together. She wrote a poem on the phrase “OMG” and how it can be expressed in so many different ways. Caelyn enjoys writing and is very proud of the poem that she chose to be showcased in the collection.  

Another freshman in Mrs. Rowley’s class, Hana Varsano, also appreciated the opportunity of publishing one of her creative writing pieces. She wrote a poem about her struggle with not getting a role she wanted in theatre.

“Writing this poem helped me gain confidence in myself and work through the disappointment of not getting the part,” Hana said.

Creative writing helped Mrs. Rowley’s freshman English students work through issues they’ve had and allowed them to express themselves. It also provided them an achievement to look back on and feel proud of when they think about their freshman year of high school, rather than all the uncertainty and negative impact of COVID-19. That’s also how they chose their topic name – the students wanted something that showed their struggle with this year but was also funny and not too serious. The students worked hard on their pieces and are proud of their book, Spoiler Alert We’ve Never Actually Been to Hi School.