Thursday, March 10th, 2016.

February saw the end of a creative writing project in Collingwood School which was culminated in the performance of This Makes Me, a multilingual spoken word symphony, performed in some of our school’s many languages.

An astonishing 150 students from years 8 and 9 in Collingwood School took part in the Young Writers’ City project, which encouraged students to explore writing about identity.

Working with North East writers Rowan McCabe, Fred Phethean and Bob Beagrie, the students wrote This Makes Me, a work of voices including spoken word poetry, beat-boxing and rap. The work was performed to an audience of peers, family and friends in February.

The work celebrates the rich diversity of our school environment as well as the identities of its pupils, including lines written in Slovakian, Spanish, Croatian, Arabic and Romanian.

Short stories written as part of the project will also be published in a limited edition book, with a book launch to follow shortly, while the students are now working with a film-maker to capture This Makes Me on film. Coming to a screen near you soon!

Collingwood School has been working with New Writing North on the Young Writers’ City project since September 2015. Students at the school now have the opportunity to develop their interest in writing through after-school clubs in rap and creative writing, with other schools in Excelsior Academy set to join the project from Easter.

Speaking ahead of the performance, Fabiana, age 14, Collingwood School, Excelsior Academy, said: “At first I thought it was going to be boring, but now I think it is so good that I always want it to be Monday. It’s been fun learning about poetry in this way and I feel sad that it’ll be over. I’m still feeling nervous for the performance but I am going to try my best because I am living from the code YOLO.”

While Angelika, age 12, Collingwood School, Excelsior Academy, added:

“It’s great; it makes me feel happy and more confident. We have always been laughing and enjoying it. I think this project will help me in the future as it has made me more confident to speak out and say my ideas.”

Even the teachers have got involved in the project and writing of the raps, Mrs Bryce, English teacher with responsibility for initiatives, Collingwood School, said: ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this unique project and watching the pupils grow and develop, not only in the outstanding writing they have been producing but their confidence in themselves and their ability. We have a number of extremely talented writers and this has been an invaluable learning tool to develop these skills. I am immensely proud of each and every young writer.’

What a performance and achievement for our pupils, with more still to come from the project stay tuned!