Lending a hand to striving writers


Lauren Montano

Starting in February after school select Downey High School juniors and seniors, who applied will participate in a student—tutoring program to assist sophomores with their writing skills. This program, officially known as the writing lab, has fallen under the supervision of English teachers: Ms. Stratford, Mrs. Carlson, and Mrs. Bean.

Rodas Hailu, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Beginning on Feb. 5, the English Department will be providing free tutoring services for students who need help with their writing assignments.


Led by Ms. Stratford, Ms. Bean and Ms. Carlson, the writing lab will consist of juniors and seniors who will volunteer their time in order to assist sophomores with their essays. The writing center is modeled by a similar lab at California State University, Fullerton, Stratford’s alma mater. The idea to establish a writing center at Downey was inspired by the fact that many students need one-on-one help with their writing projects, but there isn’t enough time for teachers to go through with individuals during lessons. For two hours every week, upperclassmen can come in on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays to help out underclassmen with things such as structure and consistency within a paper to develop better writing skill; however, simply looking over and editing a paper is not the primary goal of the lab.


“I hope that our primary goals are fulfilled by creating better writers,” Stratford said. “It’s not about the essay, but about the person.”


For upperclassmen who wish to join, the process is quite painless. An application must be filled out, requiring the applicant to write a paragraph describing why they want to become a writing tutor and what qualities he/she can bring to the center. Once the tutors have been chosen for the writing lab, the English teachers will provide training as a way to prepare the mentors for their upcoming interaction with their mentees, as well as discussing information about the tools that will be needed to help the younger students. As the writing lab progresses throughout the year, the advisers hope that the sophomores and the tutors both enhance their composition skills.


“It’s a conversation with writers,” Stratford said. “It isn’t necessarily about skill but more about personality.”


Senior Miguel Lozano, a student of Stratford’s in her ERWC class, desires to join the center because he wants to help other struggling students.


“I am interested in applying for the writing center because I really want to help people who are struggling in any step of the writing process,” Lozano said. “because I am aware of how rigorous it can be and why some have a challenging time with.”


Applicants, like Jocelyn Orozco, 12, have certain techniques to look for in an essay.


“Sensory details—sense of smell, taste—so some can visualize what is going on,” Orozco said. “Everything should fit well together, not scattered.”


Whether students are struggling with their writing, or just have one question to ask, the center will be available for pupils who desires to improve in the written word.