Writing Workshop, the most concentrated moment of Loomis Chaffee’s writing program, is part of an across-the-board emphasis on excellent writing at Loomis Chaffee. Sophomores and new juniors attend Writing Workshop once a week as part of their work in English. Freshman English students develop a facility with words and an appreciation of the importance of diction and syntax. By the end of sophomore year, students are well-steeped in the process of writing. They build upon and hone these skills in junior and senior English classes, which tackle more advanced texts, require more refined arguments and encourage more creative thinking.
“At virtually every level, you’re getting at both the writing skills and the thinking skills,” notes longtime English teacher and former head of the English Department Jeff Scanlon ’79.
The emphasis on good writing does not stop at the threshold to English classrooms, either. Biology students must write cogent lab reports. In their junior year, U.S. History students develop extensive research papers. In economics classes, philosophy electives and foreign language sections alike, students compose essays, personal reflections and narratives.
The Writing Workshop curriculum has given structure to the school’s long-standing emphasis on superior writing. The school produced exceptional writers long before the advent of Writing Workshop in 1994.
Many graduates now in college have reported that they had become their college dorms’ writing centers. Jeff explains that the LC writing program gives students an awareness of the mechanics of writing that many of their college classmates did not acquire in high school. Not only can Loomis Chaffee graduates write well, but they also can explain the science of good writing.