The pen is mighty.

And when students get the opportunity to feel just how mighty their words can be, great things happen. In this digital age, we don’t always use the “pen” but it is important to remember words matter. And expression and communication still make the world go round.

Every spring at the annual High School Writing Day on campus, 200 high school students from more than a dozen high schools get the opportunity to express themselves and enhance their communications skills. They spend the day exploring opportunities in various writing fields, like sports writing, fiction, poetry and other genres.

Perhaps more important than the skills they are honing is simply the opportunity to learn how their ability to write, and express their thoughts and ideas, affects others.

The event culminates with an “open mic” session in the Kemper Recital Hall. Students line the walls waiting for their chance to take the stage and share a piece of themselves.

It can be an unnerving moment. Taking the stage, in front of hundreds of eyes. Performing something that may have bubbled up from deep inside you. Something you may not have shared with anyone. Ever.

But in the next few moments, the students learn just how mighty their pen can be.

“It’s like magic,” said Dr. Susan Martens, director of the PLWP and assistant professor of English.
“These students really encourage each other.” She has seen students suddenly not wanting to go on stage, but after finding strength from the audience, who was shouting encouragement, the courage of a Griffon rose up.

Cheers like “You can do it!” and “you got this” resonate from the audience. And the performance continues.

“This year’s open mic was filled with students who were clearly inspired by the day and reveling in the sense of community they felt on our campus,” Dr. Martens said.

The time spent on campus leaves a lasting impression, and some students can’t stay away. Dr. Martens says some of the students come back year after year for the program. And some of those high schoolers transition to Missouri Western students.

The opportunity for these students to be with peers who all have a love for writing is amazing, Dr. Martens said, along with the chance to explore the variety of writing fields.

High School Writing Day is hosted by the Department of English and Modern Languages, with support from people like you – Missouri Western supporters, and your donations to the Missouri Western Foundation.

This is just one of many opportunities we have to showcase our great University and encourage the next generation of Griffons.  Your unrestricted gifts to the Missouri Western Foundation enable us to support a variety of endeavors across all disciplines.

Because of you, we are able to encourage students and provide support that leads to student success. Thank you!

To support these and other programs with your unrestricted gift, visit