Our Youth

Student Scholars Present

Eleven student researchers from St. John’s Preparatory School, Astoria, were invited to present and lead a panel discussion at the Northeast Writing Center Association‘s annual conference, held this year at St. John’s University.

From left: Christine Johnson, Ashlene Bisram, Kathleen Prager, Ina Kodra, Deanna Danke, Oliver Allen-Cummins, Jason Booth, Chitkaran Singh, Theodore Samonte, and Mark Burgos.

The students’ presentation entitled “Academic Writing in an Age of Informality” was the culmination of a year of research done under the guidance of  Jason Booth, and in consultation with Kathleen Prager, members of the Prep’s English faculty. Students conducted an extensive review of current research, explored student attitudes and methodologies, and then proposed ways social media can serve as a viable bridge to formal rhetorical modes.

“These students are continuing our long tradition of scholarship,” said William Higgins, principal of St. John’s Prep. “We are absolutely delighted for the national recognition they are bringing to St. John’s. For the past months they have worked diligently to prepare a valuable presentation and we believe, contribution to the field.”

In 2007, St. John’s University Writing Center and St. John’s Prep English Department forged a partnership whereby the two communities began to collaborate.  With the guidance and generosity of Christopher Leary and Thomas Philipose, assistant directors of the University’s Writing Center, the Prep took steps to deepen learning and understanding about composition theory and practice.

St. John’s University generously provided workshops, access to Dr. Harry Denny’s extensive on-line library; e-tutoring; dialogues with the professors and hosting St. John’s Prep English classes for face to face writing conferences.

In 2010, Prager and Chris Leary determined that the Prep was ready to begin the next phase: a Writing Center at the Prep.  With the continued support of the university team, the Prep began the identification and cultivation process of their first cohort of Student Writing Fellows, a number of whom were participants in the NEWCA Conference.

Over the past 18 months, these young people studied, discussed, observed, acquired and implemented the skills for successful language study and instruction. A solid team of practitioners developed and, to the delight of the Prep community, the team was invited to present at the conference.

Plans to expand the Prep’s center continue and this year, an alumnus made a generous donation to advance the work being done.  The good news regarding the Prep’s efforts continues as Prager has accepted an invitation for the students to write an article for the highly regarded English Journal.


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