Earlier in November, PEN member and Writers in the Schools volunteer Carol Cooper wrote to inform us that the MCSM RamPage, the online newspaper of the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics was nominated for three Newsies awards!

Last September, Carol teamed up as a PEN [Writers in the Schools] volunteer with then MCSM Senior Kiara Ventura to launch and edit the high school’s first online student newspaper. The Newsies, awarded by CUNY, are the only high school newspaper awards for student journalists. The RamPage is nominated for “Best New Newspaper,” and student journalist Roberta Nin Feliz is nominated for two awards for her writing. Carol highly recommends reading Feliz’s op-ed My History Matters Too,” where she holds a frank discussion on the lack of African-American and Latino history education in her school system.

Carol is the current PEN Advisor/Editor to the paper. In her words: “I and the members of the MCSM Newspaper Club must thank the PEN Writers in the Schools program, without which I would not have been able to meet and work with the gifted young writers and editors at Manhattan Center.”

The online newspaper is still going strong, and you can read it here. Congratulations to all of the student journalists at RamPage!

In other parts of New York City, Writers in the Schools volunteers are working with students from around the world.

Volunteer Dan Millman, at the Science Skills Center in Brooklyn, is working with an advanced ESL class made up of six ninth-graders “from locales as varied as Bangladesh, Haiti, the Congo, the Dominican Republic, and Pakistan.” Dan is working with a curriculum that “includes one creative writing session per week” and writes that “it will be a delight and challenge to introduce—and encourage—non-native English speakers in the area of expressive and creative writing.”

Peter Gelfan, at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics’ after-school writing program, is working with students who “recently moved here with their families from abroad—Africa, Asia, Latin America.” Although English is not their first language, he writes that he is “impressed with the way many of them tackle their assignments. Rather than pick simple topics […] they often address complicated concepts, personal issues, and nuanced emotions. […] It’s rewarding to deal with them writer to writer rather than teacher to student.”

Also at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, Jesse Kornbluth, is continuing his work with students with “no history of writing or reading when there’s no assignment.” So far this month, his students have written “Dear John and Dear Jane letters” and “thank you notes to someone who stood in your way or was your enemy—a person who, ironically, made you better.” They also wrote and delivered “a speech to support [their] candidacy for Student Council President.”

His mantra? “If you can think it, you can say it. If you can say it, you can write it.”