Writopia Lab gives students opportunity to develop literary skills


Writopia Lab manager Lucian Mattison oversees students working on a poetry activity in the library on Wednesday, Oct. 23. “I believe writing has a lot of benefits, even if it is just creative, that we kind of don’t really give enough credit [to it],” Mattison said. “Where in prose, narrative prose [and] poetry, on top of just the expression of the self and the expression of personal voice, we also tend to not emphasize enough that within prose and the creation and craft of prose, there’s a lot of technical stuff that goes into it.”

Elizabeth Li , Staff Writer

The 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards contest kicked off with the Writopia Lab on Wednesday, Oct. 23, in the library, where students gathered to read poems and hone their skills for the upcoming competition.

Writopia Lab representatives Laura Owsiany and Lucian Mattison visited Jefferson to talk to students about literature and help them develop their writing skills. The Writopia Lab aims to inspire young writers to use literature as a creative outlet to express themselves and to instill in them skills that will set them up for long term success. 

“Everyone needs to know how to write at some point if you’re going to be entering the workforce, and [if] you don’t know how to draft an email, you don’t have any idea what tone is like, it’s going to be pretty obvious. And those are just some pretty small benefits, and then bigger benefits just are about teaching people to become better thinkers in general,” poet and Writopia Lab manager Lucian Mattison said.

As an official partner of the Scholastic Writing Contest in the DC Metro area, Writopia Lab encourages enthusiastic student writers to enter the prestigious national writing competition. Last year, at Jefferson, 32 students won awards at the Regional Scholastic Writing Awards Competition, and two students won awards at the Regional Scholastic Arts Awards Competition.

“It’s something we’ve been involved in ever since the beginning of TJ. It gives students an opportunity to enter different types of work in a competition that’s considered to be the best in the country,” English teacher Jennifer Seavey said.

Mattison hopes that the Writopia lab will motivate student writers to express their opinions and views through writing, and encourage the mixing of different ideas.

“My hope, personally, is that we just get a lot more writers who are interested in their own voice, because we really want to emphasize that everyone’s voice is valuable,” said Mattison. “For me it’s about elevating the voice of younger kids and teens who are really looking to make their voices heard, and also to create a community of writers that they can share their opinions with and that they can learn from, that they can just have a community that is supportive of them in whatever their environment is.”