GHC introduces the Writing Center

Lilit Ghaplanyan (left) works with tutor Hannah Haider (right) on her essay for “Fahrenheit 451.” Photo by Madina Safdari / The Plaid Press.

By Eunice Kim and Hanna Kim

This month, the school opened the Writing Center, which offers students the opportunity to strengthen and expand their writing abilities. There, student tutors offer one-on-one support to those looking to improve their school-related and personal writing skills.

The Writing Center is in room J12, hosted by English Teacher Kristi Vasquez, who also acts as the advisor for the center. For each session, students will bring a writing piece in need of revisions and show it to their tutors, who will point out any flaws and help them develop the skills to fix them.

The development of the Writing Center will be spread out over several years. This year, the focus will be on freshmen who need help transitioning into the high school level for essay writing. Next year, the Writing Center will welcome sophomores as well, and juniors and seniors will be welcome in the years after that.

The project has been planned, designed, and organized by seniors Isaac Nava, Mary Jabagchourian and Sebastian Gonzalez. After noticing that the school lacked tutoring spaces for writing last year, they wanted to establish a space for students seeking support.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Advisor Cynthia Quintana aided them in the launch of the Writing Center.

“I saw firsthand the benefits of peer tutoring at the writing center at my daughter’s high school, Westlake High School. So, I interviewed the director of Westlake’s writing center and visited their center to see the tutors in action. Equipped with their successful model, I recommended to administration that we pursue this project,” Quintana said.

IB requires that its students organize at least one community service project during their two years in the program. With Quintana’s support, Gonzalez, Jabagchourian, and Nava were set on realizing their vision for the center.

“We all shared a common interest in wanting to pursue writing as a learning activity for other people,” Nava said.

It took three months to transform their idea into a solidified project. With their plan in mind, the seniors presented their project to the school’s English teachers during a department meeting.

“The response was overwhelmingly positive. Not all ideas are usually greeted as enthusiastically as it was,” English Department Chair Mathew Arnold said.

When the project was close to being finalized, Vasquez came on board as the official advisor of the Writing Center.

“I immediately went up to the English Department Chair, Mr. Arnold, and told him that I’d be willing to help with anything that I could. I really liked the idea of students helping each other in important skills like writing because I think students can connect with other fellow students in a way that teachers can’t,” Vasquez said.

Though the center will help improve essay writing skills, the team’s  ultimate objective is to give students the chance to grow as pupils, tutors, and writers alike.

“[The tutors] aren’t adults with college degrees. They’re still learning and understanding their strength and weaknesses. Teaching others will make them reflect on their own English skills,” Jabagchourian added.

Vasquez expressed that the project has already exceeded her expectations and is optimistic about its potential to impact the GHC student body.

“We originally talked with admin about 15 tutors, but now we have 33 tutors set to go, which is way beyond what we were expecting. I’m excited to see these students help each other pick up the skills they need to become truly prolific writers,” Vasquez said.

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