A new crew and website means big changes to Writing Center

Students using the writing center’s available tools to better their writing. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Marut)

Students using the writing center’s available tools to better their writing. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Marut)

By Grace Gilson, Reporter

Writing essays is unavoidable in a high school like Lane, where many classes demand constant output of writing. The hours spent in a state of writer’s block or the constant frustration of writing the same sentence over and over can leave many turning in work that doesn’t reflect their true abilities. The Writing Center is a relatively new resource at Lane that allows students to peer edit each other’s papers in a friendly space.

Students can go into room 255 before school, after school or during any lunch period and there will be student tutors ready to help them with their process, according to Writing Center Director Ms. Cramarosso. Appointments can be scheduled and students can seek help developing any type of writing from college essays to lab reports, according to the Writing Center’s website.

Much has changed since the Writing Center began in the fall of 2017, and it now has over 40 tutors and has expanded to a volunteer tutor program founded by students Finley Williams and Kelly Johnson. The new program allows students who do not have room in their schedule for the class to still participate.

One of the seven volunteers who successfully completed the training, Shannon Edwards, described the process as rewarding.

“Initiation took two months of preparation,” Edwards said. She was asked to read sources and have group discussions on them, as well as complete mentoring under a tutor in the class, Edwards said.

“The final test was a ‘dummy run’ with Ms. Cramarosso pretending to be a student,” Edwards said. “If you pass that, there’s an initiation ceremony and you become a tutor.”

Other developments to the Writing Center include a website designed by Lauren Marut that enables students to schedule meetings and find writing resources.

Marut said that these new initiatives are in the vein of creating a better student atmosphere surrounding the Center.

“We’ve had trouble with misconceptions about the Writing Center, that we’re juvenile or inadequate, but we study so much theory about tutoring,” Marut said. “It’s not receiving a paper and marking it up with red pen, it’s facilitating a conversation.” 

The website describes tutors as “active participants in conversation,” and with over 2,244 conversations in the Writing Center just this year, the method seems to be getting students to return, according to data collected by students at the center.

“There’s a lot of authority around teaching writing that ends up frustrating creativity and stopping risk-taking,” Cramarosso said. “Tutors are not meant to write it for them … they should be able to work and reflect on their own writing process without having their voice stifled or feel judgment.”

Tutors for the Writing Center see many benefits to the hours of work they put into helping students better their writing, Cramarosso said.

“Straight up benefits are you get volunteer hours for all the time you spend here, you can apply to scholarships with it, and almost every college campus has a Writing Center on it and it’s a paid job,” Cramarosso said. 

Cramarosso does not take credit for the idea of the Writing Center. In fact, there is a very large movement on college campuses towards this type of learning, with most campuses having some form of them today, she said. 

Currently, the program depends pretty heavily on required visits from teachers. About 76% of visits this year have been attributed to this according to surveys distributed to students that have visited. 

“We are a little bit up on our ‘chose to come’ visits… the good thing is they say they would return and would recommend and were satisfied,” Cramarosso said. Her hope is that students see the benefits she thinks the center has to offer and will start coming more readily.

For those considering becoming a tutor, Cramarosso said, “The critical thinking the tutors have is so strong. It makes you a smarter person and better at writing.”