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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

Since her fresh-out-of-college arrival on the Island in 1981, Sally Knight has taught English, coached boys cross country and distance track, and served as dorm resident or affiliate. In her tenure, she has taught classes at the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior levels, including senior electives in Creative Writing, Journalism, Contemporary Literature, Shakespeare, Short Story, and Satire; and in the interdisciplinary course Desegregation & Democracy in South Africa. While on academic exchange with Scotch College in Melbourne, Australia, she taught year-long courses in writing and Australian and British literature to both middle and upper school boys.

In addition to directing the Writing Initiatives program, Sally, a student-council-selected Teacher of the Year, currently teaches the year-long CL Advanced Junior English Seminar class and heads the recently-launched Writing Studio. Sally’s most recent on-going education has come by way of Bard College’s Institute for Writing and Thinking. Earning both her BA (in English) and her MALS from Wesleyan University, Sally also holds a degree in counseling from St. Joseph University.

Sally’s early education came in classrooms in the United States and the South Pacific, at a Quaker Friends kindergarten in Swarthmore, PA; a public elementary school in sub-urban Germantown, PA; a city primary school in Suva, Fiji; a progressive middle school in Laguna Beach, CA; and at British-influenced grammar and high schools in Nuku’alofa, Tonga. She matriculated with National Honor Society and Experienced-Based Career Education certificates from Portland High School in Portland, CT.

Sally and husband Peter are proud parents of Loomis Chaffee graduates Miles ’10 and Tate ’14.

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 Writing Studio offers inspiration and support for Loomis writers — students and faculty alike — 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 in any stage of work. 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 as resources, with the students setting their agendas for their Studio sessions, and holding sole command of the pen.

Agenda items might include, but are not limited to, the generating of ideas, sharing of drafts, expansion of critical thinking, and review of relevant writing skills.

Opportunities for Writers

Student Publications

The LOG

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 excerpts from Emerging Writers exhibits:

2016 Emerging Writers Exhibit

2017 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.

Write On!

In conjunction with the Community Service program, LC students share their love for all things language at a local elementary school. Once a week throughout the winter term, Pelican writers lead younger wordsmiths in creative writing projects.

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.

Writing News