On November 16, the ninth annual Writing Program Outreach Committee’s letter exchange project culminated in an on-campus event. Over 120 middle school students from RJ Frank Intermediate School in Oxnard joined UCSB students and faculty in Corwin Pavilion for a celebration of writing.
The letter exchange project pairs Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) students from RJ Frank with current UCSB students. Throughout the Fall quarter, the AVID students exchange letters with students in Academic Communities for Excellence (ACE) writing classes as part of a program designed improve writing skills, enlarge perceptions about what counts as writing, and encourage academic achievement. This year, the letter exchange began with a visit at RJ Frank by UCSB writing faculty Jennifer Johnson and Nicole Warwick, who guided the middle school students through the writing process, welcoming them to the project.
The dinner event was both a celebration of writing and an opportunity for students and faculty to meet and to learn from one another. The event featured a number of speakers including Writing Program Director Madeleine Sorapure and UCSB student Michelle Macrohon. In an inspiring speech, Macrohon urged the middle school students to believe in their abilities, and to use their time for both local and global good.
The grand finale was a series of readings from several letter-writing pairs, who generously shared their work with the audience. The letters were at times amusing, at other times poignant but--most importantly--honest, and made clear the connections that had been established between the two groups. Through their writing and conversation over dinner, students were able to ask questions, express their hopes and fears, gain valuable insights about college life, and recognize their potential for success.
The letter exchange project was coordinated by Writing Program faculty Robert Krut and Ilene Miele with the assistance of RJ Frank AVID instructors Kristin Storey, Kendra Hammond, Summer McMeekin, and Gregory Packham. UCSB writing faculty Randi Browning, Chris Dean, Leslie Hammer, Robert Krut, Ilene Miele, and Kathy Patterson provided the UCSB letter writers.