West Teachers Offer Free Summer Workshops


Art/Photo by Samantha Takeda

West High’s Summer Workshops will offer five different enrichment opportunities on campus for students between mid-June and early August. Theater Director Ms. Orabuena encourages students to give her workshop a try “if you think you might want to be involved or you just want to come back to school and have fun for a couple weeks.”

Lauren Ng, Co-Editor-in-Chief

   Just 11 more days, and summer break will have officially arrived. As the school year comes to a close, the doors of summer opportunity begin to open. Five of West’s teachers are offering free workshops specializing in a variety of skill sets – from paying taxes to playing piano. 

   Mrs. White, an English teacher at West and the adviser of staff publications, will be hosting a Writer’s Workshop for next year’s freshmen and sophomores. She explained, “I think all of us that are doing these summer programs are trying to tap into something that we missed during the school year.” In her workshop, Mrs. White intends to revive “that idea of being a community of writers, and really being able to explore writing.” 

   During each of the three weeks, students will hone their abilities in a different writing style. “They’ll be able to write about whatever they’re feeling, whatever they’re interested in, [and] whatever they’re thinking about, while still learning effective writing skills,” Mrs. White explained. 

   While students will be able to apply their knowledge in future classes, the workshop’s environment differs from that of a regular academic classroom: “They can practice being a writer in a low risk setting, where they’re not worrying about points and they’re not worrying about a grade.” These writing skills can benefit them in more than just English class, as according to Mrs. White, “writing is just about being an effective communicator and helping spread your ideas.” Having strong communication skills can aid students in a variety of classes beyond English, as well as throughout life after high school. 

   Additionally, the classroom is not the only setting in which the writer’s workshop will take place. Mrs. White has planned weekly field-trips to “help us be more real-world writers and be able to be inspired and influenced by the world around us as connected to our writing.”

   Other summer offerings are built to fill missing elements of learning, such as hands-on activities, made void by a virtual year. For any student who took an anatomy class this past school year, Ms. Rodriguez is offering the chance to take part in class labs with her summer anatomy workshop.

   Preparing for the future? Keeping track of finances is an important aspect of life in the real world. Mrs. Burt, the Accounting and Introduction to Business teacher at West, will be teaching students about a variety of personal finance skills. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, this workshop is open to you.

   Have you always wanted to learn to play an instrument? Mr. Rodich’s music workshop is available to West Area students between 7th and 12th grade, focusing on three building blocks of music: piano, guitar, and singing. 

   Lights, camera, action! Ms. Orabuena, West’s Theater and Play Production Director, is offering a Theatre Workshop. Broken up into three groups – theater, stage tech, and video production – students will work together to produce a showcase over the course of two weeks. By the end of the workshop, showtime will arrive through a performance live-streamed from West’s Performing Arts Center.

    At the heart of the Theater Workshop is the desire to facilitate a smooth transition back to in-person interaction, as well as simply to just have fun: “I just wanted to give the kids access to coming back to school, having a good time, only for a few hours [with] no pressure,” Ms. Orabuena expressed. Throughout the two weeks, her choreographer will be “[teaching] the actors a different combination from a different musical every day.” 

   On a broader scale, Ms. Orabuena hopes that the workshop provides students with a mental health boost, “making sure we’re all healthy going into next year.” In future summers, she intends to keep hosting more workshops: “My goal in the next couple years is to run these summer programs where people get the experience without having to commit for the full year.”


   Interested in one (or many) of the summer workshops? Sign-ups are due on Friday, May 28th before 3 p.m. Reserve your spot