New chapter for Homewood creative writing


Marchino’s 2022 Creative Writing II class posing with their Scholastic awards (photo by Amy Marchino)

Marin Poleshek, Managing Editor

When current teacher Amy Marchino went to Samford University on a track scholarship, she could have never foreseen the direction her career would take her. Now the head of HHS’s new Creative Writing department, Marchino is working to build a welcoming, inclusive environment for student writers.

Previously a tenth-grade English teacher, Marchino typically only taught Creative Writing for one or two periods of the school day. While she has instructed the elective for multiple years, the class did not become her primary focus until she began to recognize the prowess of her students.

“Every year students would ask, ‘Can I take this next year?’ and I would have to say ‘no,’” remembers Marchino, alluding to her students’ inability to take higher-level classes. Due to elective size requirements, students rarely had the opportunity to continue past Creative Writing I unless enough signed up for a second year. However, as students began to demonstrate their interest and dedication to writing, Marchino began to consider the possibility of teaching additional classes. “I thought, if they want to, why can’t we have a program?”

So she decided to create one.

Because of her established role in the English department, Marchino recalls that the process of implementing the new program was fairly smooth. Seeing as Homewood supports sports, show choir, and music, she thought it only logical for the school to create a platform for writers. Despite requiring the approval of both HHS faculty and the school board, the proposal passed with flying colors. “Henneke really wants what is best for kids,” Marchino claims, adding that she has “never met a principal with a better heart for students.” 

Marchino working at her desk during a Creative Writing Club meeting (photo by Marin Poleshek)

As a result of these efforts, Marchino is now teaching Creative Writing I, II, and III classes. An astounding total of 71 students are currently enrolled in Creative Writing I, which Marchino believes “speaks to the needs of students.” In addition to providing a wider range of opportunities, this new stratification of classes enables students to commit themselves to write on appropriate levels for their individual interests. While Creative Writing I focuses more on exploring different writing styles, Creative Writing II and III dive deeper, eventually culminating with individual, long-term projects.

When asked about her vision for future Creative Writing classes, Marchino says that she “likes where Creative Writing I is” but would eventually like to add more class periods for the higher levels. This year, Creative Writing II and III are combined in a singular class period, which is one of the primary things that Marchino hopes to change in the coming years. 

To further cater to the interests of students, Marchino is also teaching an “Introduction to Improv” class, which is the first of its kind at Homewood. A theater major in college, Marchino is extremely excited to bring her knowledge of acting into the classroom. The class is open to students from all grades and aims to teach the building blocks of improv comedy through a variety of games and activities.

Though only offered for one semester, Marchino is confident that it will be a great starting point. “I have two goals,” she says, “to host a showcase and to become part of a Comedy Sports team.” With 67 eager students signed up, the chances of these goals coming to fruition are more than plausible.

Despite all these changes, Marchino’s core goal remains the same: to create a safe space for student writers. In doing so, her students not only have the opportunity to develop their craft but can also receive recognition for their work.

Each year, Marchino encourages her Creative Writing students to submit pieces to the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards. This national competition honors both student writers and artists for their outstanding creations.

Though Homewood students have participated in this contest for years, Marchino’s 2021-22 students received a record number of awards. And, while winning prizes has never been the goal for her students, there is no denying that this was something special.

“While I didn’t write the pieces, I feel like I created a space for writers to achieve things,” says Marchino, emphasizing her gratitude for being able to teach the class. “When my writers achieve their own success, that is success enough for me.”

Eventually, Marchino hopes to have a trophy case dedicated to Homewood Creative Writing. Just as the Fine Arts wing showcases the achievements of programs such as band and show choir, the hope is for a spotlight to be placed on writing as well. Marchino emphasizes that this is “not because awards are the end all be all,” but rather because “there is power there.”

Cameron Hart, Lena Holly, Emma Sheffer, Jill Ferderber, and Madison Orr collaborate at a Creative Writing Club meeting (photo by Marin Poleshek)

Further displaying this power is the Creative Writing Club, which is new to the club scene this school year.

Senior Maddie Cobb, who serves as its Co-President, says that its aim is to create an environment for writers that is “more casual” than class. A Creative Writing III student, Cobb says that her vision is for members to “socialize in a productive way” and “have a space to build connections” all while developing their writing skills.

With a variety of activities such as movie nights, poetry stations, and workshops, the club serves to extend the writing program to students unable to enroll in Creative Writing classes.

Above all, Homewood Creative Writing seeks to instill a passion for both writing and reading within its students. Though its story is still being written, there is no doubt that its future will be a page-turner.