Every time I mentor at Broad Ripple High School, I learn something new about myself and about my students. I would like to share, in this this little nook of the internet, two experiences I had at the school that were particularly rewarding. The first was in one of my earlier sessions at Broad Ripple. I was working with a small group of students that included Q— and S—, two students who are very fun and seem to get a lot out of our writing club. After reading them a long list of prompt ideas, they just stared at me. “That’s it?” said S—, as he cast me a sidelong glance. “Well I could try to think of something even crazier for you guys,” I retorted. “No, no” said Q—, “How about I come up with something?”
And so on that day Q— proposed we all write about “a flag in a bucket.” I asked her if she could clarify exactly how we should include the flag in the bucket and she looked at me like I was daft, “You write a story, a poem, whatever—and it’s gotta have a flag in a bucket.” We decided that we would have a contest and see who could include “a flag in a bucket” most skillfully. As it turned out, we all produced really interesting stories. S— used the flag to strike down evil ninjas, while Q— won a sweepstakes with the disappointing prize of, you guessed it, a flag in a bucket.
Another great session occurred more recently. On this day I was working in a group with a student named P—. He was pretty shy with me and seemed to have difficulty with the opening prompt that all the writers were undertaking. When he had the opportunity to choose a prompt, P— seemed really excited to choose one in which you had to write about what you would want to have if you were stranded on a desert island. His story was hilarious. P— liked how I read it to our table, so he suggested I read it to the class in this weird voice that somewhat resembled Burt Reynolds, if he were cast in a movie about the Vietnam War. During the day’s Open Mic session, the entire group was laughing hysterically when the story concluded with the action-hero main character accidentally stepping on his gun and shooting himself.
These experiences have really made my school year much more enjoyable. Every week I go into Broad Ripple not knowing what to expect, and I often go home feeling good about what I’ve accomplished. These interactions with the students have helped to confirm that we really are helping to garner creativity from these extraordinary children.
Anthony Borruso is a graduate student in the MFA Creative Writing Program.