It all started with a change made by SAS administration: adapting Advanced Topics courses into High School Curriculum. Over the years, there were compliments and disputes from students and parents regarding the extent that students could explore under the AT guidelines and rubrics and how much they could learn out of the class. There’s one class among all the AT courses that gained a huge popularity recently: AT Writing Workshop and Publication.
The 2020 cohort of AT Writing Workshop and Publication (ATWP) has just published their book to the world. This year’s book is called Up to No Good: A Chorus of Villainous Voices. This book is an anthology that introduced stories of villainous characters. But, this time, from villains’ perspective: they are the protagonist. Each member in the cohort were able either design their own villain or pick one of the villain from greek myth or famous stories. Some famous villain that cohort members picked are the “The White Bone Spirit” from Chinese Folktale, “Krampus” from Central Eurpoean folklore and also “James Moriarty” from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series.
Villains—they enthral, seduce, and thrill us with their dark deeds. And whether we approve or not, we all have to admit that sometimes, just sometimes, we secretly like them. “Up To No Good” explores these dark worlds of mischief, malevolence, and mayhem. Whether it be a ravenous evil spirit, a conflicted Jack the Ripper, or a manipulative magic mirror, these villains all have one thing in common: they are up to no good!–Up to no good: a chorus of villainous voices
You might be wondering: there are so many genres in the world, how and why did they pick to write about Villains? At the end of the first semester, ATWP cohort members came all together from different class blocks and started making idea and genre pitches. The presenter were asked to design a short presentation to debrief their classmate and cohort member about the idea and were ready to answer numerous questions came afterwards. There were a few rounds of voting: voting within the presenters’ class block, voting from teachers, and voting within the whole cohort. After rounds and rounds of voting and elimination, knowing that everyone has a different style in writing and different interests in all genres, we ended up choosing the genre with the most popular votes. During this process, the characteristic of collaboration were highly highlighted, as each member of the cohort all sacrificed some or all of their ideas for the good of the cohort production.
After rounds of careful discussion between our teachers, Dr. Clark and Ms. Nash, we came up with the detailed criteria that each one of us is asked to follow. In this way, even though everyone’s character is different, we could still spot some similarities between the stories that could link between each other to create an anthology in the end. Based on those criteria, then we dug into few mentor texts during the winter break. Members were divided into separate groups to discuss about those mentor texts over chatting apps to stay connected during the winter break.
You may think that all they need to do at this point is crafting their own stories and submit the final version. That was only a tiny part of what was going on. Each member of the cohort were also separated into production teams: Project Management, Editing Team, Design Team, Marketing Team and Events Planning Team. Each team has their own job to pave our way towards production. Keep in mind that this book is thoroughly design by the cohort members of ATWP which included format their manuscript, design book cover, inviting famous authors to read our book and plan out the book launch at the end of the year. That is also what’s special about this course. During this period of time, we not only saw numerous students that has special talent in planning and designing, but also plentiful student leaderships within the different production team. The timeline were completely decided by students with the help from teachers. Some members contacted with several book sellers to ask about whether they could sell our book when it is published. There were also students who managed to conduct a full-length YouTube live and switching between video interface and Zoom meeting smoothly.
Throughout the process, this year’s ATWP cohort experienced much uncertainties: COVID-19 had to get involved into their process. But, it was also because of this sudden factor, they broke the record of audience during the book launch. The book launch was live on YouTube which allowed everyone all over the world to witness the second of the launch. They also found out a new format of selling the book—pdf version. It was a perfect solution after they found out that original printing process were delayed due to the pandemic.
This year’s ATWP cohort definitely brought us a tons of surprise with their ability to deal with uncertain factors. That’s probably why AT courses where brought into the SAS curriculum: there were something that is more than standardised testing. As this year’s production came to a successful end, the journey of ATWP will not end. While everyone’s waiting for what the next year cohort will bring to their audience, It is a good time to check out this year cohort’s anthology @lulu.com.