Student Voice

Part of the Writing Center’s goal is to provide opportunities for Skyline students to find authentic audiences and purposes for their writing. Skyline students are amazing writers, artists, photographers, singers, filmmakers. We want to to celebrate and amplify their voices. We believe that writing can also be used to promote positive change for social justice and equity in our community and beyond. We strive to use our voices and those of our classmates to promote a more just world.

Teen Spirit: Skyline’s Literary Magazine

Since beginning in 2012, the Writing Center has published hundreds of pages of student fiction, poetry, collage cut-ups, photography, visual art, songs, and short films from hundreds of students in order to amplify student voice and get the amazing creative work in our school community to authentic audiences. Based on the Writing Center’s project-based learning approach, students on the editorial board learn how to curate, edit, and market a product they help create.  Each year, we celebrate the release of Teen Spirit at Literati Bookstore in Downtown Ann Arbor.

Teen Spirit has been consistently recognized as a top literary magazine in the State of Michigan by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

2021: “Renovations”
Editors: Peter Cohn, Sierra Lubetkin, Matthew McMorrough, Erin Page, Jenna Reid, Elizabeth Smith, Kelsey Walworth

This year’s issue is digital only due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The issue is best viewed using fullscreen mode.

2020: “Teenage Riot”
Editors: Ellie Andrew-Vaughan, Savanna Cowley, Dara Geva, Alison MacGillivray, Erin Page, Gigi Shipp, Elizabeth Smith, Jocelyn Valenzuela, Arjun Verma, Kelsey Walworth

This year’s issue is digital only due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The issue is best viewed using fullscreen mode.

2019: “Issue #7”
No Submission to NCTE
Editors: Emma Rose Carpenter, Carsten Finholt, Isabella Preissle

2018: “Roots + Branches”
Nominated for NCTE REALM First Class Award
Editors: Bridgette Bauer, Emma Rose Carpenter, Bailey Christensen, Madeline Small, Floria Tsui, Amanda Wilhoit

2017: “Enjoy the Silence”
No submission to NCTE
Editors: Leahley Alawi, Bridgette Bauer, Anne Boyd, Bailey Christensen, Krystal Hur, Liam Keating, Christopher Morgan-Martin, Star Su

2016: “Exile”
Editors: Celia Arsen, Leah Bauer, Kelsey Carpenter, Anna Dang, Ella Horwedel, Christopher Morgan-Martin, Kaelan Oldani, Eleana Tworek

This edition of Teen Spirit featured a clear, limited-edition 7″ single with Arden Siegel and Kai McKenney performing Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the A side and Leah Bauer performing “Tree Among Trees,” an original composition, on the B side.

2015: “Choose Your Own Adventure”
Editors: Skylar Burkhardt, Kelsey Carpenter, Ella Horwedel, Emi Jackson, Troy Morgan

2014: “Resistance + Rebellion”
Editors: Ethan Cannaert, Adriana Hassan, Lillian Schneyer, Abigail Shotwell, Danny Vincenz

2013: “Teen Spirit” 
NCTE PRESLM Superior (Nominated for Highest Award)
Editors: Bonny Cai, Shoham Geva, Scott Haddlesey, Alex Kime, Abby Peterson, Kaavya Puttagunta, Christopher Shepherd, Noah Steinberg

Skyline Writing Prize

The Skyline Writing Prize was created to formally recognize and publicly acknowledge exceptional writing done by current students in Grades 9-12.  The winners of the Skyline Writing Prize are awarded cash prizes, have their pieces published in Teen Spirit, our literary magazine, and are featured readers at our annual Teen Spirit Release Party at Literati Bookstore in Downtown Ann Arbor.

2021 Results

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Teen Spirit Release Party and Writing Prize celebration was canceled.   The winners recorded a podcast with Jeff Austin, the Writing Center’s Director, talking about their writing process, reading their winning piece, and finding out where they finished in this year’s competition.

First Place: Maoz Bareket, “The Waters of Chichichiwan” 

Second Place: Ren Gray-Wright, “My Field”

Third Place: Peter Cohn, “Judeo-Christian”

Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Smith, “Boxes”

Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Sobocinski, “Silent, Empty”

Honorable Mention: Kelsey Walworth, “Sunday Night”

2020 Results

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Teen Spirit Release Party and Writing Prize celebration was canceled.   The winners recorded a podcast with Jeff Austin, the Writing Center’s Director, talking about their writing process, reading their winning piece, and finding out where they finished in this year’s competition.

First Place: Alison MacGillivray, “Sunshine” 

Second Place: Jahi Hawkins, “I Break Free” + “Black Boy”

Third Place: Dara Geva, “Natural” + “Sense of Adventure, Sense of Responsibility”

Honorable Mention: Savanna Cowley, “Cookie Cutter Kids”

Honorable Mention:  Sophie Reznick, “First Kiss”

Honorable Mention: Ollie Barr, “Exist”
Ollie was not available to record a podcast episode.

2019 Results

First Place: Savanna Cowley, “Mrs. Valenti”
Second. Place: Ellie Andrew-Vaughan, “Hate Mail to the Thesis Statement”
Third Place: Ahmad Kady, “Hardly Working”
Honorable Mentions: Jason Rousell, “Are You Afraid?” | Seun Ajepe, “Uneven” | Tamara Emerson, “Our Generation”

2018 Results

First Place: Anonymous, “Pine Rest”
Second Place: Carsten Finholt, “Three Things”
Third Place: Tamia Morton, “Bad Day”
Honorable Mentions: Inali Hathaway, “Hidden Truths” + “Generations” | Jahi Hawkins, “Help Wanted” | Isaac Mangold, “The Power of the Image: A Call for Visual Literacy”

2017 Results

First Place: Jessica Gibbs, “Out of the Wardrobe” + “Sedated”
Second Place: Anonymous, “10 Ways to Stay in a Relationship With Someone You Despise and Resent”
Third Place: Riley O’Brien, “Boxed” + “Absence”
Honorable Mention (Tie): Sophia Nam, “The Aesthetic of Broken” + “A Girl’s Guide to the Bathroom Breakdown” | Star Su, “Hone(st)y”

2016 Results

First Place: Anonymous, “Tiers of an Ivory Girl”
Second Place: Kelsey Carpenter, “Towns”
Third Place (Tie): Ella Horwedel, “Father and Son” | Anonymous, “Cheesecake Confessions”

2015 Results

First Place: Ella Horwedel, “Down the Road”
Second Place: Joan Levleit, “W(rec)k (&) Kill My (E)ntire Sun(d)ay”
Third Place: Avery Moje, “I Don’t Need All Feminists”

Professional Conference Presentations

Our tutors are often invited to present at national and international conferences, like IWCA, to share their work on building students’ funds of knowledge, sharing vulnerability with writers, using growth mindset principles to promote equity and inclusion, and striving to close equity gaps with our community partners at the Eastern Michigan University Office of Campus and Community Writing and 826michigan.  Most recently, Skyline Writing Center tutors were invited to present at the 2018 Secondary School Writing Centers Association (SSWCA) conference on using a growth mindset to work against deficit orientations and promote asset-based learning in schools (Slides | Video).

International Write-In for Social Action

Each year, the Skyline Writing Center hosts the International Write-In for Social Change as part of an global effort to have students across levels and institutions sharing their voice with the world.  Skyline’s event focuses on writing for social action and change and encourages students to think about how their exceptional work is positively impacting their corner of the world each day.  This event, open to all Skyline students, also raises money for local and national charities.  We donate $1.00 to a selected charity for each piece of student writing we receive during the event, an amount our director, Mr. Austin, matches.

The event raised funds for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 2016, and it sent funds to Ozone House in 2017.

National Day on Writing Six-Word Story Competition

To celebrate the National Day on Writing, the Skyline Writing Center sponsors a six-word story competition open to all current Skyline students.  Students can submit their entries to the submission box in the Writing Center or online using Twitter and Instagram.

The goal of the Six-Word Story competition is to encourage students to write for fun outside of the classroom and to have this non-academic writing celebrated in a public, authentic way.

The Bleeding Heartland: A NaNoWriMo Novel

Editors: Bobby Boyle + Alexa Pinsky
Writing Staff: Latifa Al-Mohdar, Gretchen Bakker, Wei Wen Balter, Shannon Cowley, Sam Ellison, Emily Hahn, Tina Lee, Lizzie Ritter, Abby Shotwell, Noah Steinberg, Katey Urbin, Anita Vander Meulen

Read: The Bleeding Heartland: A Murder Mystery from the Prairie

In November 2013, the students of the Skyline Writing Center took on an ambitious task: writing a community novel for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, as it is more commonly known). The composition of long-form fiction is an exceptionally difficult task when completed by a lone author, but it becomes incredibly complex when fourteen different individuals must work cohesively and collaboratively to form something engaging, immersive, and cogent. The fourteen individuals responsible for the completion of this project worked diligently to ensure that the product was as brilliant as they are, and, by our estimation, they were incredibly successful.

Our motivations for diving into the long-fiction genre were two-fold: to ensure yet another outlet for Skyline’s creative community to express itself. In an era where opportunities for students to engage in imaginative endeavors in being reduced by external funding and curricular pressures, we need to create windows–portions of the day–where people can dream, where they can play with words, characters, and ideas.

To assist our tutors in the process of producing “creative writing” in the school sense of the term. We believe that our tutors will best serve their classmates if they have a firm understanding of the look and feel of the writing process outside of the traditional academic writing. As people visit us with stories, poems, and multimedia reports, we need to understand their mission and vision to best assist them in reaching their ultimate goal of being a better, more complete writer.

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