More in Schools
An awesome teacher and creative students
Nikki Hodgkins, Meg Doughty and Mariah Haggen play Gloom as Lexi Fryover looks on. The purpose of the game is to encourage creative storytelling.
Alumni Karyssa Kneeland, Erich Zurhorst and Nick Hamel play Munchkin.
Alexander Witas, Kristen Arsenault, and Ronald Russell play Settlers of Catan as Andrew Phelps (hidden) and Mariah Witas offer friendly advice.
RUMFORD -- What would it take to get high school students and alumni to give up a week of summer vacation and gather in a stiflingly hot library?
The answer is Fantasy/Sci-Fi Creative Writing Camp at Mountain Valley High School. But it isn’t just the camp that draws students.
Sophomore Kristen Arsenault said, “My real motivation for joining the camp was my friends. I was interested, but they were my deciding factor.”
“Well, I’m a huge geek, and I love writing,”explained Lea Nolette, a sophomore from Dirigo High School. “So, this was the perfect fit.”
According to alumna Nikki Hodgkins, she chose to attend “For (Meg) Doughty. The writing is just a bonus. With the group that’s here, I know I’ll get good feedback.”
Another alumna, Karyssa Kneeland, said it succinctly, “The awesomeness of Ms. Doughty.”
English teacher Meg Doughty is coordinating the camp as well as writing along with the students.
“We are exploring topics like how to write fight scenes which work, how to build a fantasy/sci-fi world that seems plausible and how to create interesting, flawed characters. My purpose in coordinating the camp was to help create a community of writers,” Doughty explained. “Plus, I get to hang out with some really cool kids.”
Several highlights have emerged from the camp at the midway point.
“My favorite thing has been the sword fighting, with pool noodles of course,” said senior Lexi Fryover. Many of her camp mates echoed her high spot.
Jonathan Doughty (Meg Doughty’s nephew) showed various bladed weapons. He demonstrated sword moves with a pool noodle. He explained several principles like “aim for the person, not the sword” and “static is dead” as he tried to disarm or “injure” his opponent. The students then had the opportunity to try the moves on each other.
Mariah Witas enjoyed Skyping with author Bryce Moore, author of Vodnik. Moore is a pen name for UMF librarian, Bryce Cundick.
She said, “He gave us a look at what it’s really like to be an author and advice about writing.”
“My favorite activity so far would be doing the world building activity,”commented DHS junior Abigayle Johnson.
World building is the process an author goes through to create a believable setting for his/her story and character. This is especially important for sci-fi and fantasy authors.
Senior Andrew Phelps said, “My favorite thing was writing the fight scenes. We choreographed the scenes before we wrote them.”
In terms of upcoming events, Freshman Alanna McGinty, Junior Travis Ford, Senior Mariah Haggen and Alumnus Nick Hamel look forward to role-playing to help create characters and settings.
So what do these dedicated students hope to gain from their summer work?
“I hope to fix my writer’s tells and gather input from my peers,” said Alexander Witas.
“Tells” are changes in dialog or action which might distract the reader or give too much away.
In addition to mentoring younger students, Alumnus Nicholas Williams hopes to “improve on my weaker skills in writing.”
Similarly, Freshman Ronald Russell wants to “learn how to better myself in creating a story.”
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Creative Writing Camp include Kristen Arsenault, Shawn Bennett, Nathan Fitzpatrick, Travis Ford, Lexi Fryover, Mariah Haggen, Nick Hamel, Nikki Hodgkins, Abigayle Johnson, Karyssa Kneeland, Alanna McGinty, Lea Nolette, Andrew Phelps, Ronald Russell, Nicholas Williams, Alexander Witas, Mariah Witas and Erich Zurhorst.
For the budget-conscious taxpayer, Doughty volunteered her time to plan and coordinate the camp. Each participant paid $25 that will hopefully fund next year’s camp.
Who knows? From this group of creative writers, the next Stephen King, J. K. Rawling, J. R. R. Tolkien or Kurt Vonnegut may emerge!