Expecting “Echoes”

A promising year for the creative writing class

Emma Li, Reporter

Creation comes in many forms, whether it is through visual or performing art. However, Chris Stout’s creative writing class is hidden within the halls of the English department, and is bursting with the images of words. 

This is Stout’s tenth year teaching creative writing at Parkway Central, and overseeing the production of the school’s annual poetry magazine, Echoes. The class focuses on poetry and fiction, with an optional focus on playwriting or screenwriting. At the end of the course, students have the option to submit at least two original works into the magazine.

“I think that I can say the class has been fantastic,” Stout said. “I have a real great troupe of writers this year. I know the quality of their writing has not been inhibited by COVID. I think the students have been able to continue to be inspired by the external world.”

Senior Jessica Gaehle took this class as a chance to expand her writing style. She prefers writing nonfiction, but has discovered the freedom in writing poetry.

“Sometimes I’ll write something serious, like a social critique on society, or it can be something as simple as writing about a flower,” Gaehle said. “I prefer to write at night and when I’m alone because it’s hard to be creative at school when you’re almost trained to be a certain way.”

Stout is cognizant of the limitations of a school environment, but puts his trust in the words themselves.

“Poetry can always be there for us when we just need a moment to get grounded and maybe take a step aside from the stress of dwelling on the past or the anxiety of the future,” Stout said. “The poetry is as available as people want it to be.”

Gaehle’s writing habits extend into the audio realm, which becomes integral to her writing.

“If I’m listening to something more serious or sad, then I’ll write something more serious or sad,” Gaehle said. “If it’s more happy and upbeat, my writing’s going to be more happy and upbeat.”

Senior Tim Angelo Lopez finds it easier to first write his short adventure and comedy stories in Dagalog, his native language, then translate it into English to see two sides of the same story.

“In general, my favorite part of writing is being creative, looking at things a little bit more in detail or in another perspective,” Angelo Lopez said. “Because when you’re writing, you always look in another perspective.”

Senior Hannah Krivelow began writing every day since eighth grade, but found a different side of her writing in this class.

“Since eighth grade, I just started going through stuff with my family, and so I just started writing about that,” Krivelow said. “Then that just turned into a passion for writing. Before the class, I liked writing just about my life, but I think that this class has really helped me to start writing more than just that. I just started writing about silly things.”

Krivelow has aspirations to become an English teacher, and even publish a few books. The creative writing class has helped her build on her own character and writing skills.

“Mr. Stout really challenges every student’s brain,” Krivelow said. “He made me think so much differently than I have before, and just going back in my writing from previous years to now, I write so differently. I feel like that’s a lot because of this class.”

The value of the class is within the expression that arises from original writing. Stout values the quality of student expression above writing skill in his class, which lends to the inclusivity of the environment.

“It’s the most direct path to getting to know my students and recognizing the depth of their character,” Stout said. “It’s always fun. It doesn’t matter how good the student is. It’s always a gift to witness their soul on paper. I think anybody can find a way to enjoy this creative writing course and should really try it out. It isn’t just for budding novelists. It’s for people who want to explore themselves and create. We’re all supposed to create.”

We all choose our media for communicating our inner creative being to the external world. I think that the benefits I’ve gotten from writing anybody can get from anything they do that they love, that is never done, that is always continuing. We are bigger than ourselves, and art belongs to everyone.”

— Chris Stout, English Teacher