By Rachel Taylor, Editor in Chief
The Montgomery College English Department in Germantown celebrated National Day on Writing last Friday by offering cupcakes to people in the bookstore lobby of the HT building. The cupcakes were free, but in order to receive one, people had give a written response to one of a variety of prompts drawn from a box.
Sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the National Day on Writing takes place each year on October 20. According to the website, its purpose is “to draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in, and to help writers from all walks of life recognize how important writing is to their lives.”
Multiple pens and pads of brightly colored Post-it notes were spread out on tables near the entrance of the cafeteria. After people had finished writing their responses, the Post-it notes were placed onto two large posters that will be displayed in the English and Reading Department.
Prompts included questions about favorite foods, favorite movies, dream jobs, and why attending college is important, among other topics. There were about 20 different prompts to choose from; the prompts are changed each year. People were allowed to choose a different prompt if they didn’t like the one they initially picked.
Professor Stephen Gladson is the coordinator of the Writing in the Disciplines program and came up with the prompts used for the event. “The prompts give students a chance to write for a few minutes about something they enjoy. We try to stay away from academic topics. I add new prompts every year, but I stick with the same themes,” Gladson said in an email. “In 2016, because it was an election year, we changed the themes to address freedom, equality, justice, and democracy. We may try out some of these themes again in 2020,” he added.
“The whole idea is just to get students to write,” said Elisa Merendino, an administrative aide for the English department who helped run the event. There was no minimum response length, as Merendino told people who stopped by. “It can be as short or as long as you like,” she said. Additionally, people were instructed not to “worry about punctuation” in their responses.
Despite the temptation of free cupcakes, a few people refused to participate when asked. However, the responses of the approximately 50 people who did participate varied in length and content. About their favorite movie, one person wrote down “The Bourne Identity.” Another person wrote that their dream job was to become an English teacher. Some people wrote only a single sentence, yet others wrote answers that filled the Post-it note.
Student Life provided the cupcakes that were distributed. The timing of the event was strategic to try and catch people around lunchtime when they would be passing by the cafeteria. In Germantown, professor Kristine Lui and Maria Clark from Student Life also helped out at the event to celebrate the National Day on Writing.