New “Writers Academy” offers students writing-related concentrations, graduation distinctions

HTML tutorial

Earlier this month, Principal Brian Condon announced the launching of the Townsend Harris Writers Academy. In an email to the student body, Mr. Condon outlined a program of writing-related courses, extracurriculars, and professional opportunities that he said will make THHS become “the premiere high school for writers.”

Open to all students, the Writers Academy allows Harrisites to “major” in one of three areas: creative writing, journalism, or theater writing. Though the program will launch in full for the class of 2027, current students will be able to join this year. As long as a student participates in a set number of classes, extracurricular activities, and professional opportunities, they will be able to graduate as a part of the Writers Academy and earn a graduation distinction.

“We want the Writers Academy to be something that brings students together to develop their skills and take part in one-of-a-kind opportunities,” said English teacher (and Classic advisor) Brian Sweeney, who will oversee the journalism program.

English teacher Katherine Lipinski, who is one of the teachers leading the creative writing program, said the teachers involved in launching the program intend to consolidate our school’s writing opportunities into clear pathways.” English teacher Ryan Dunbar, who will help run the theater writing program, described the Academy as an opportunity to “hone skills in your particular area of interest” and to hone writing skills in general. 

Students can still participate in Writers Academy extracurricular activities and classes even when not a part of the program. However, those who are members receive priority registration for specific classes labeled as a THHSWA Course and will be able to meet the requirements to become a part of writing-related honor societies, such as the Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists.

Many students who spoke to The Classic said they are excited about this new program and are enthusiastic about its potential. 

“[The Writer’s Academy] is a great opportunity for people who are interested in writing as a profession to develop necessary skills,” said sophomore Vivian Oksenhendler. 

Junior Hasan Raza said it will also “open a door to new forums in which students can not only learn to express themselves but do so in a formal academic environment.” 

Harristies interested in writing have the opportunity to take part in writing geared extracurriculars as well. Mr. Dunbar said that through the Writers Association learning will not only happen “inside the classroom, but in extracurricular activities such as The Classic, the Drama Club, and the Starling Press.” 

“[The Writers Academy will] establish more collaboration between different areas of study in the humanities, further creating a stronger humanities department at Townsend Harris,” said Mr. Dunbar. 

Comparing the new THHS offerings for writers to the program that LaGuardia High School offers for artists, Mr. Condon said in his emails that the Writers Academy will “make Townsend Harris the place that students go to realize their dreams of becoming writers.”