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Visiting Cari Luna’s WITS Residency at Franklin HS

by Cassie Duncanson

This past week, I had the pleasure to stop by Dana Vinger’s classroom at Benjamin Franklin High school and observe WITS author Cari Luna as she led a lesson focused on political writing with Ms. Vinger’s seventh period class.

For a warm-up writing exercise, students had to consider a contemporary political issue and write a speech for a character to deliver at a political rally. Students chose to write about a variety of topics, from marijuana incarceration, to the president, to climate change, to immigration, to the men who call themselves incels.

Luna then led a reading of an excerpt from local author Leni Zumas’ acclaimed Red Clocks. Students looked at how fiction can use everyday life and events to explain politics. Using the personal, “makes [politics] feel immediate and real,” Luna explained.

As a group, the class then came up with potential, politically charged story lines to expand later during the class period that weaved together a specific place, character, and political topic.

Lastly, the class spent time working on their stories that they had been creating during Luna’s time at Franklin High. She emphasized the importance of crafting a detail or concrete thought to help bring their stories to a close. Students from Franklin High will be reading from these stories May 16th at the Bipartisan Café.

I’d like to extend my thanks to Dana Vinger, Cari Luna and the students for their warm welcome. Based on the writing that they were capable of creating within a short class period, I am excited to see what they will bring to the reading and to the Literary Arts student anthology.

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