Dear families and teachers,

Happy February! It’s been a while since we’ve connected, but Story Lab students have been bursting with creativity this winter.

Our middle school students have joined the Sitka Native Education Project’s after school Culture Class to learn about local indigenous storytelling. We have learned Tlingit words (xh’aan, “red, like fire”), sung canoe songs, and listened to stories about Sitka. This week, Chuck Miller told us a story he wrote himself about Raven traveling to the Yukon in search of food. Mr. Chuck enjoys writing his own legends to keep the storytelling tradition alive and modern. We came up with our own versions of new legends about local animals and places. Isabel invented a story about the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi, who long ago was alive and loved it when people danced inside of her. Rowan wrote about a wonderfully narrated story about a wolf who races his friend, Silver, off a cliff and nearly dies.

Our high school after school students have focused on 20-minute writing exercises. We wrote poems describing our favorite colors without mentioning the name of the color itself and had everyone guess the colors. Katie wrote about periwinkle, comparing it to a unicorn, and Brianna wrote about lavender, and the way it appears on her quilt and brings her comfort. This week, we wrote odes to ordinary things in the style of Pablo Neruda’s odes.

In schools, Story Lab is teaching “Sketchy Art,” a life skills class at Pacific High School. Annika Ord (Island Institute), Sam Dealy (Fine Arts Camp), and I are guiding ten students in experimenting with creativity. So far, we’ve done blind contour drawing, in which we sketched each others’ faces without looking down at the paper, and surrealist stream-of-consciousness writing and drawing to shake up our imaginations. 

Last, but not least, Story Lab went to Hoonah and Kake for a week to run creative writing and storytelling workshops! Artist-in-Residence Anna Carson DeWitt and I led poetry and personal essay writing classes for Hoonah high school and middle school students. In Kake, we worked with the entire elementary school! What a delight it was to meet their wonderfully imaginative spirits. In K-2nd grade classes, we read Elizabeth Bishop’s “Sestina,” interpreted the poem in colorful drawings, danced to cello music, and wrote poems of their own. One 2nd grade student wrote: “The Northern Lights are like the blue and green fire in my wood stove.”

Story Lab hosts free, after-school creative writing and storytelling classes every other Tuesday 3-4:30 (there’s one today!), middle school every Wednesday 3:30-5:00, and high school every Thursday 4:15-5:30. Registration is open and all are welcome to join! For questions contact (907) 747-3794 or email