Fishtrap College Writing 131

Left to right: Anna Moholt, Tori Suto, Aubrina Melville, Amy Zahm, Natalie Gorham, Kana Oliver, Renee Seal, Foster Hobbs.

Thanks to persistent efforts from Fishtrap and Eastern Oregon University, Fishtrap College returned after a several-year hiatus to offer college credit for Writing 131, a creative writing course for local high school students.

Outside of their regular school hours, nine high school students from Enterprise High School, Joseph Charter School, and Alternative Education devoted their time to exploring literary techniques such as repetition, character development, and elements of poetry.

They participated in 10 four-hour classes from January through March.

“The classes never seemed long. We enjoyed it and never felt like it was a chore,” the students agreed during their final session. “It was a great addition to our high school education!”

Amy Zahm taught the class, and, by all the student accounts, she was a warm, brilliant and engaging instructor. She encouraged the class to share their work and to give constructive criticism to each other. Over time, the students bonded through their writing and opened up to one another.

“Amy was an outstanding teacher… The atmosphere of the class was amazing — I think we all felt fairly comfortable with sharing our work and personal expressions with each other,” said Anna Moholt.

The other students along with Moholt in the class were Aubrina Melville, Christina Russell, Foster Hobbs, Natalie Gorham, Renee Seal, Tori Suto, Kana Oliver and Jedidiah Lamb.

“Taking an extra class on your own time, especially a college credit class, was a bit daunting to me when first proposed. But what started as a chance to get some more college credit, became a chance to engage in something new and special,” said Suto.

Zahm was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the class. Wrapping up the course, she gave her students the opportunity to share their pieces and show off their new skills at a public reading sponsored by Fishtrap.

Parents and friends all appeared very impressed by the students’ work as well as Zahm’s instruction — some parents were even moved to tears. Every student agreed that they would recommend this class to others.

“I’m really pleased to see Fishtrap College revived. It’s a great opportunity for local students to not only develop their writing skills, but to also get a jump on college credits,” Zahm said. “I feel honored to be part of the program, and I got the chance to work with some exceptional students and to read and listen to some excellent stories. Teaching creative writing to these students was the best part of my winter.”

Kana Oliver is a senior at Joseph Charter School and contributing writer for the Wallowa County Chieftain. She lives in Enterprise with her family.

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