Grade-free summer lifts learning

Most cherubs came to this program feeling they were among the best writers in their high school. However, when they got their first assignments back, some began to question themselves.

“When I saw lots of marks on my paper, it made me feel bad about myself,” Ariana Joharjian, of Rhode Island, said. “I usually don’t get that many marks on my English paper.”

Many cherubs shared Joharjian’s sentiment.

Cynthia Wang, a former cherub and guest instructor, encouraged cherubs by showing how John Kupetz, her instructor during the cherub program, wrote so many comments that her assignment sheet was covered with green pen.

Although numerous comments can discourage cherubs, Michael Payant, of Washington state, said he was glad because he knows harsh critiques can help him improve.

“With the teachers at school, we are trying to figure out what the teachers want, but here we work together,” said Payant, who is in Kupetz’s group this year. “I know they are trying to give the best instruction and he wants us to succeed. I also like how he keeps on encouraging us by saying we are very smart,” he said.

Mary Lou Song, the head instructor, said that the purpose of this program is to encourage cherubs and teach them about what they love. She said not getting graded helps cherubs learn.

“Cherubs came here to learn, not to worry about the grades,” Song said. “It’s really about teaching cherubs as much as possible about journalism and every aspect of journalism.”

Cherubs also enjoyed learning in the grade-free environment.

“Not getting graded provides me a room to be creative,” Matt Silverman, of Connecticut, said.

Not only did cherubs say they enjoyed learning, but they also said they improved significantly.

“My writing is a lot clearer and concise, and I never had formal journalism training, so I think this helped me a lot,” Sara Weissman, of California, said. “It also helps to have instructors who know your writing so well and work with you every week.”

Cherubs will not forget time spent with their instructors and will try to keep in touch with them. Lauren Kravec has Jean Williams as her instructor.

“Of course I am going to keep in touch with Jean after the program,” Kravec, of Florida, said. “She was such a good mentor, and I will send her my articles because it’s always helpful to have an extra set of eyes, especially ones as experienced as Jean’s, look over my articles.”