Students Prepare for Creative Writing Reading

By Melissa Sanders-Self, MMS High School English Teacher

“ Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
– Anton Chekov

The Mount Madonna School Creative Writing Reading is an annual event where students, faculty, parents and friends gather together to listen to our student writers read. This year we will gather on Friday, March 8 at 7:00pm to listen to open letters, villanelles, short stories, sestinas, sonnets, monologues, first person narratives and other inspired forms of writing.

The quality and variety of writing produced by our students is matched only by the experience of hearing them read their work aloud. It is a magical night; images rise to the rafters and the emotion in the assembly room is electric listening as the students stumble, cry, laugh, gush and nail it. People are transformed.

The energy generated at our creative writing reading has spilled over into other satisfying creative writing achievements; in 2012 our students organized to produce a newspaper, publishing their own literary efforts. Over the past eight years two MMS students have won the Santa Cruz County Poetry Competition, one has received an honorable mention and most every year some of our students are published in the Santa Cruz Poetry Competition Anthology. We have also had numerous creative writing students accepted to the California State Summer School for the Arts as California Arts Scholars and many of our alumni pursue graduate degrees and careers in English, Literature and Creative Writing.

After our last reading parents commented; “Great school event, my favorite! Wonderful acceptance and support of students for each other.” “Some make you laugh, some make you cry…all of them were great.” “I applaud your honesty and bravery and humor.” “All are wise beyond their years.”

A few years ago, one of our writing-loving seniors summed up the student experience; “What I like about the creative writing reading is what it exposes about the other kids in the school. After the readings I feel I have more understanding and more connection with my peers. We’re up late, together, being honest and sharing our personal thoughts and creative work. It is raw and wonderful. What could be better?”

Students at MMS are asked to perform in many different ways, but the experience of reading aloud a piece of your own writing is uniquely challenging. Our imaginations, fictions, dreams, and actual moments recalled, funneled into words, reveal aspects of ourselves that sometimes surprise even the writer of the piece. Events like the creative writing reading remind me why MMS is such a special place; here my students feel confident enough to be vulnerable. As an educator I have the opportunity to witness and guide their growth, their creative writing and their ability to feel good about sharing a piece of themselves with the larger community.


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, Marketing & Communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 mountaintop acres, Mount Madonna is a safe and nurturing college-preparatory school that supports students in becoming caring, self-aware and articulate critical thinkers, who are prepared to meet challenges with perseverance, creativity and integrity. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville.