Franklin High School’s library was packed yesterday with volunteers being trained for our WITS College Essay Writing Event. High school students need to write essays and personal statements for their college and scholarship applications, but they don’t always receive enough support during the writing process. This fall, WITS is coordinating with Franklin High School faculty and dozens of volunteers to meet this need.

The volunteers’ eagerness was palpable as Franklin staff Susan Bartley led the training session. Her powerpoint presentation gave volunteers several techniques on helping students generate ideas, select information to include, and essentially write a successful essay. “For these students, it’s extremely valuable to have people like you who have gone through the [college application] experience,” Bartley told the volunteers.

Her audience included local writers, teachers, parents of students, Portland Arts & Lectures patrons, members of Literary Arts’ Board of Directors and a variety of local professionals. All volunteers expressed a desire to help students succeed and many recalled their own experiences applying to college. Interest in volunteering was so strong that the roster filled within two weeks and there is a waiting list for future opportunities. Each of the volunteers has completed a volunteer background check.

“This can really make a difference in deciding whether a student can attend college,” said Bartley. Students and volunteers will be meeting for the workshop portion after school on Tuesday, November 9.