Franklin High School’s library was buzzing on Tuesday afternoon as over 60 mentors and students gathered to work on students’ essays for college and scholarship applications. Students ate pizza as Franklin High School staff Susan Bartley gave a Powerpoint presentation with tips for writing essays, and then everyone got to work.

The turnout was phenomenal, especially considering that this was a pilot project and had never been done before. After the presentation, students and mentors took out their idea-generating questionnaires, which they had filled out in advance, and brainstormed together.

“Talking with the student and helping her recognize her strong points was definitely the highlight,” said one mentor. “The students really seemed to flourish in the spirit of the moment.”

Many of the conversations went beyond grammar and punctuation. Mentors helped their students identify moments in their lives that had shaped who they are becoming.

“The key is that we are paying attention to them, providing an opportunity for them to sit down and work on an essay, helping them get started, giving them some feedback, and trying to help in whatever way is most useful to that student,” said one volunteer mentor.

“I think the whole experience was terrific,” said another volunteer, “and a much-needed way to bring together adults fluent with words, reading, and writing with students who can benefit from such role models, and from the individual attention of adults with real-world experience.”