Eleven 10th-grade students in the Honors “Power, Justice and Authority” course taught by Michele Poacelli and Alexandra Patterson presented an evening of dystopian workshops November 7 to showcase their work from this term.
Through the study of several short stories, podcasts, and at least two novels, students have gained an understanding of the dystopian genre. An exploration of the themes and associations of dystopian literature, the “Choose Your Own Lit-Venture” experience was a journey over the fall term and asked students to journey along a track of their choosing: the author track or the designer track.
The designer track included students who chose to create an interactive workshop. Groups of two or three students worked together to create a lesson plan to be taught to members of the campus community during the night of workshops. Workshop designers explored elements of dystopian literature – and covered topics such as how plagues spread or the ways the game of croquet illustrates the fight against the government. Student groups worked with faculty members to help refine their ideas.
Students who took the author track wrote their own short story based on the dystopian genre. In order to learn more about the genre, students read three stories and analyzed what themes and tropes make them dystopian. Reflecting on these themes, students worked on pre-writing that explored character or plot development.
"Our project, specifically about propaganda, has helped me understand how dystopian themes have arisen in our world today," said Maggie Betkowski ’21. "It’s quite shocking how much of our daily lives are subject to propaganda, and how we barely even notice."
Completed short stories range from 1,500 to 5,000 words; authors shared their finished stories with their peers November 7 at One North Coffee and Bake Shop, and submission for publication in Mercersburg Academy’s Blue Review literary and arts journal will be strongly encouraged.
“Choose Your Own Lit-Venture” has given students the opportunity to collaborate, create, design, author, revise, and explore new dimensions of their interest in dystopian literature. “There are few boundaries and endless possibilities for the intrepid adventurer,” Poacelli says.
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center. Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. 300 East Seminary Street, Mercersburg, PA 17236 GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236 717-328-6173