Before walking into Broad Ripple High School, I had no idea what to expect. This was mid-September and at this point, I’d only lived in Indianapolis for a little more than a month and I hadn’t been in a high school in over a decade. This was certainly foreign territory, and to make matters even more surreal and formidable, back when I was their age, some of the kids that attend Butler Writers weren’t even born yet. I felt out of the loop, to say the least, but I was excited to start working with the kids and was ready for anything/everything that would come my way.
The experience so far could not be better. I went in with an open mind and these kids have blown me away. The emotional depth with which they write is nothing short of incredible. It’s inspiring to hear the stories they read at the end of class during our open mic sessions, and when they don’t feel like writing, it’s a true privilege to get to sit with them and talk. Over the course of the semester, a familiarity and trust have grown, to the point where the students and I can have real conversations about what’s going on and the issues that are affecting their lives. Writing in the Schools is unlike any class I’ve ever taken, and this is coming from a first year graduate student (so it’s technically my seventeenth year of school). Needless to say, I’ve taken a lot of classes and I’ve never been associated with something as fulfilling as this program. Butler Writers fills a true need in this high school. These kids need mentors, people to talk to and play games with, people to foster creative urges and to encourage a continued interest in whatever areas inspire them. I’m proud to be part of this program. Proud to spend two afternoons a week with a group of kids I would otherwise have no chance of meeting. Proud to be a helpful member of the Broad Ripple High School community. And proud to help these kids develop and sustain a love of writing. A lot of the students we work with don’t have a lot to depend on (even their school is closing on them at the end of the year) but every Tuesday and Thursday come 2:30pm, they can depend on Butler Writers being there, with pencils and paper ready. I’m proud of that. But most of all, I’m proud of them.
Connor Kesslering is a graduate student in the MFA Creative Writing program.