New Club has a Story to Tell


Club Advisor Mr. Brown and Yasmin Aborida meet to discuss ideas for stories

Samantha Maxfield

Trek up the central staircase and over to the A-Wing on a Monday afternoon and you’ll hear the voices of students telling stories in Room A210.

The Storytelling Club first began about a month ago when Mr. Brown, a WSHS English teacher, was inspired by an organization called The Moth, in which ordinary people tell true stories about their lives in front of an audience. Last year, Mr. Brown learned that they have a school curriculum that they use in New York City schools, so he tried using it in one of his classes. Later, he found that there was a teachers’ institute to train teachers in the work they do with storytelling in high schools. He applied and went to an inspirational, three-day workshop on storytelling. “I think that every school needs a storytelling club- to be able to take something that’s happened to you…and turn it into a story is such a powerful thing,” said club co-adviser Mr. Brown. He feels that seeing the students tell their stories, live and with no notes, is really powerful.

At the first meeting, no one showed up except for advisers Mr. Brown and Mrs. Sibilia, but that didn’t discourage them from trying to get students interested. Mr. Brown talked to his former students about the idea of the club, and that brought in more people. He got older students interested by explaining the natural connection between college essays and the storytelling club, as college essays are basically asking students to tell a story about themselves.  

According to Mr. Brown, there’s a life cycle to developing a story. “You get an idea, you try out a version of it and then you get feedback and develop it, and hopefully grow it into a 5-7 minute story. Then we hold an event, or go to the open mic, and you tell it.  Or, you turn it into a college application essay.  Then, you can come back and do it again, or not. It doesn’t have to be a year long commitment, necessarily,” he explained.

Once Mr. Brown got the word out, more students started going to the meetings. “We had our first real ‘meeting’ where we did some storytelling [and] brainstorming activities, then listened to one students college essay and story and gave her feedback- what it was like to listen to her story, what we wanted to know more about, what didn’t seem important to us as an audience.  It was really great.”

So far, students are enjoying the experience. ”We learned about the art of storytelling and the contribution of details which make a story appealing,” Iman Zafar, a WSHS senior said. The Storytelling Club provides a comfortable place for students to tell their stories in front of an understanding audience. Of course, there’s always room for more as the club continues to grow. Got a story to tell or just want to sit in and listen? The Storytelling Club meets after school on Mondays from 2-3 in Mr. Brown’s room.