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Writing at Loomis Chaffee

The Process and the Product

Decade after decade, Loomis graduates find that their writing skills far exceed those of many of their peers, no matter what major and career they pursue. With a longstanding emphasis on superior writing, Loomis teaches students not only how to write well, but also how to understand the science of good writing. Our English Department faculty lead these efforts with a four-year writing program, the heart of which is the Writing Workshop, which meets once a week throughout the sophomore year.

The emphasis on good writing extends well beyond our English instruction: in the sciences, students learn to formulate cogent lab reports; in history classes, they write extensive research papers; in social sciences, foreign language sections, and philosophy, psychology, and religious studies, they compose papers, personal reflections, and narratives. Over the course of their Loomis careers, our students develop essential writing competencies across the curriculum.

Meet the Director

Kate Saxton joined the English department at Loomis Chaffee in 2014. She teaches freshman English, senior electives such as CL Creative Writing and The Literature of Scientific Discovery, and Writing Workshop. Before landing on the Island, Kate taught at The Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, CT, and at Oakham School in the United Kingdom, where she also served as an advisor for students hoping to attend U.S. universities. She holds a BA in English from Yale University and has completed graduate level coursework in both literature and creative writing at Yale University and Wesleyan University.

Outside of her responsibilities as Director of Writing Initiatives, Kate serves as faculty advisor for The Loom, Loomis Chaffee’s student-run literary magazine. She is the assistant director for the winter musical, and she is a proud affiliate of Palmer dormitory. Writing is Kate’s personal passion as well as her professional passion. Her creative projects include two novels for children and short fiction for readers of all ages.

Writing Initiatives Associates

Karen Parsons is a history teacher and Loomis' archivist. She graduated from Amherst College and completed a master’s degree in the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture at the Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware. Her essays and articles on material culture, art, and other historical topics have appeared in anthologies published by the University of Virginia Press and the University of Massachusetts Press, various journals, and the Loomis Chaffee Magazine. With former headmaster John Ratte, Karen co-authored and co-edited the publication Cherished Hopes and Honorable Ambitions: A Centennial History of the Loomis Chaffee School. Her Loomis career spans more than twenty years and includes teaching a range of American history courses, coaching varsity softball teams to two Western New England championships, working for five years in the College Guidance Office, and co-chairing the school’s 2014 Centennial celebration. This past summer, she joined Writing Studio and Writing Initiative colleagues at Bard College’s summer Institute on Writing and Thinking.

Jessica Hsieh graduated from Loomis in 2008 and returned in 2015 to teach English. In between, she earned a B.A. from Yale University before moving to Singapore, where she taught critical thinking and writing for the GCE A-Level examinations. Now back on the Island, she lives in Palmer Hall and teaches sophomore English, junior English, and Writing Workshop. Jessica also serves as the faculty adviser to The Log, Loomis' student newspaper. Apart from her work on campus, she is currently pursuing an M.A. from Middlebury's Bread Loaf School of English. Her experience as a peer reader in the Ken Macrorie Writing Center at Bread Loaf has informed and inspired her work in Loomis' own Writing Studio.

The LC Writing Studio

The Loomis Chaffee Writing Studio offers inspiration and support for Loomis writers across the curriculum as they work to communicate their ideas, arguments, discoveries, and voices. Believing that engaging an audience of readers during the writing process promotes “skilled and discerning minds,” the trained staff members of the Writing Studio offer non-evaluative feedback and guidance to writers at any stage of the writing process. Staff members support writers as they craft works that evince not only robust writing skills but also robust thinking skills. The Writing Studio staff serve not in lieu of, but in addition to, students’ own teachers, with the students setting their agendas for their Studio sessions and holding sole command of the pen.

The Writing Studio is located on the first floor of the library. Walk-ins are welcome, but students may sign up for a Writing Studio session. 

Opportunities for Writers

Student Publications


Founded in 1915, the Loomis Chaffee Log is the official student newspaper of the Loomis Chaffee School. The Log publishes three printed issues per term, in addition to releasing exclusive online content on its website. An editorial team of twenty students oversees the reporting, writing, and layout of each issue.

The Loom

The Loom is Loomis Chaffee's student-run literary magazine. Twice a year we publish a collection of original student writing and artwork. When students are not working on the biannual publications, the Loom serves as a literary society and club on campus. We aim to foster a strong relationship between the literary and visual arts and to provide a space for students to talk about their own poetry and creative writing.

Emerging Writers

All LC writers (including incoming students) are invited to create personal Writing Portfolios over the summer months for an early-fall exhibit. Past portfolios have included everything from poetry, personal narratives, and short stories to blogs, football scouting reports, and travel journals.

Read about this fall's Emerging Writers exhibit.

Excerpts from past Emerging Writers exhibits:

2016 Emerging Writers Exhibit

2017 Emerging Writers Exhibit

2018 Emerging Writers Exhibit

Writing Competitions

The Katharine Brush Creative Writing Competition

The Katharine Brush Creative Writing Contest invites students to submit flash fiction prompted by opening lines selected from the notebooks of early twentieth century novelist and short story writer, Katharine Brush, namesake of LC's library.

Project Green Goes Prose Competition

In conjunction with the Writing Initiatives program, LC's environmental interest group, Project Green, sponsors a fall term writing competition, with students submitting one-page descriptions of the outdoor spaces and places on campus that inspire, compel, perplex, or delight.

Project Green Poetry in Unexpected Places

In mid-April, in conjunction with the Writing Initiatives program, LC's environmental interest group, Project Green, celebrates both Earth Week and Poetry Month, with students capturing outdoor moments in some form of poetry, from haiku to sonnets, blank verse to villanelle.

WALKS Constitutional Essay Contest

The WALKS Constitutional Essay Contest welcomes research papers submitted by students from Loomis Chaffee and four other Hartford-area independent schools. Essay topics challenge students to relate fundamental principles of the U.S. Constitution to current issues and events.

National Scholastic Arts & Writing Competition

Often inspired by their Emerging Writers Portfolio Pieces, students work independently and with the Writing Studio to polish pieces for this and other competitions. Scholastic Arts 2017; Scholastic Arts 2018.

Writing Circles

Winter and spring, LC's Emerging Writers host Sunday Writing Circles for local 7th and 8th graders interested in LC programs; the two-hour workshops include three different writing activities and a closing group read-around.

Students Exhibit the Write Stuff

Loomis Chaffee celebrated the work of 18 student writers with an opening reception for the Emerging Writers exhibit in the Richmond Art Center on Tuesday, September 17.

Read More about Students Exhibit the Write Stuff