Next generation of writers sprout in newly-formed club

January 29, 2014

By Neil Pierson

There are dozens of after-school clubs for Sammamish students – including ones for budding writers – but Niyathi Chakrapani saw a chance to form a club that was a little different.

Chakrapani, a junior at Skyline High School, has been writing “for as long as I can remember.” She earned a prestigious honor last spring as a silver medalist in poetry from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. More than 90,000 students from across the country submit entries, but only the top 1 percent are recognized.

 Skyline High School student Niyathi Chakrapani recruited members for the Sammamish Youth Writing Club at the city’s farmers market, where she advertised for three weeks before the club’s opening last fall.  Contributed

Skyline High School student Niyathi Chakrapani recruited members for the Sammamish Youth Writing Club at the city’s farmers market, where she advertised for three weeks before the club’s opening last fall. Contributed

She was among a group of winners that went to Carnegie Hall in New York City, and she interacted with celebrities like Usher and Sarah Jessica Parker.

But Chakrapani wanted to do more with her talent, and with the help of her mother, Ranjani, she formed the Sammamish Youth Writing Club at the start of the school year.

“I got involved in writing at a young age, and I was hoping that other kids would be able to get as involved as I was when I was that age,” she said.

The club now boasts 80 members, with the usual turnout numbering 30-40 every Tuesday at the Sammamish Library. The club is open to students ages 9-18, is free of charge, and offers a personal connection to writing that they might not get at school.

While Skyline students form a bulk of the membership, middle-schoolers from Pine Lake, Beaver Lake and Pacific Cascade also attend, along with elementary-aged kids from Challenger, Endeavour and Cascade Ridge.

Sabrina Loos, a Skyline freshman, joined the club shortly after it formed and said it’s been fun interacting with younger kids. She likes writing fantasy-based stories, and has been more diligent about her craft lately, writing most every weekend.

“They keep me enthusiastic about writing, keep me wanting to write more and create more,” Loos said. “I used to not really write that much, but now they’re kind of pushing me to write more, because they want to read my writing, too.”

Skyline junior Aaron Jin said he attends club meetings “at least once or twice a month” to support Chakrapani, a close friend, and because it enhances his creative energies. Jin is also interested in acting, and recently appeared in Skyline’s stage adaptation of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

During the weekly meetings, Chakrapani passes out information about various writing opportunities, including literary journals and competitions. Chakrapani even publishes student work on her own blog, Veritas.

“Even though I’m not going to ever use all the opportunities they provide, they provide a lot of good opportunities, and it’s a really good thing to have here,” Jin said.

The club invites published authors to lead a workshop at the first meeting of every month. Thus far, the students have heard from Robert Harken, a self-published science-fiction author; haiku poet Michael Dylan Welch; and Erika Mitchell, a thriller specialist who led a “realistic fiction” workshop in early January, Chakrapani said.

Students have been using real-world connections, submitting their work to various publications. This month, with the focus on realistic fiction, resources include magazines like AGNI, A-Minor and American Athanaeum.

“With all these new skills they’ve developed, we encourage them to use them,” Chakrapani said.

The opportunity to connect children of various ages, and have the younger ones learn from the older ones, seems to be a winning formula for the club, Chakrapani added.

“Kids’ writing is sometimes not taken seriously, but … hopefully we’ll be able to take each other seriously, and be able to help each other,” she said.


Join the club

What: Sammamish Youth Writing Club

When: Tuesdays, 7-8 p.m.

Where: Sammamish Library

Who: Boys and girls ages 9-18

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