Where is SOTA?
After many years on the campus of San Francisco State University, School of the Arts relocated in 2002 to the campus of the former McAteer High School, at nearly the geographic center of San Francisco. Plans and fundraising continue toward a move to a more specialized, permanent location. In 2010, the official name of SOTA became Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, in honor of the renowned artist who was a leader in establishing the school in 1981.
Is SOTA a typical San Francisco high school, with admission by choice/lottery?
How long has the Creative Writing discipline existed at SOTA?
2012-2013 is CW’s eleventh year as a SOTA discipline. The program was started by its current director, Heather Woodward.
How many students are in the CW program? Will the program expand?
About 28 – 30 students are typically enrolled in Creative Writing. At this time there are no plans to expand.
Who teaches SOTA Creative Writing?
CW is taught by director Heather Woodward and by an exciting and rotating faculty of artists-in-residence.
What kind of writing goes on?
The three main forms of writing CW works with are poetry, prose, and playwriting, though students are free to traverse the boundaries as they please. Many CW artists-in-residence work with innovative approaches that cross traditional arts boundaries.
Do I have to perform?
Performance is an important element of SOTA’s Creative Writing program, and definitely not optional. The department produces three shows each year, and students also appear at off-campus readings and events throughout the City.
Are Creative Writing students ever published? What about contests?
CW students are heavily represented in umläut, the literary magazine which the department produces with submissions from all SOTA and Academy students. Beyond campus, students have appeared both in print and in countless web magazines, and have won many local, regional, and national contests.
What are the expectations for involvement beyond the classroom?
San Francisco is a dynamic city in the arts world, and CW students are urged to take full advantage of its opportunities. Field trips to readings, art installations, City Arts and Lectures, etc. are common, and help students see themselves as part of a larger writing community. In addition, each Monday is “Community” day in CW, during which all students participate in different internships within the neighborhood community.
Are there opportunities for parent involvement?
We’re glad you asked! Yes, parent help is welcome, needed, and, dare we say, expected in Creative Writing. Parents serve as liaisons between department head Heather Woodward, the PTSA, and other parents; they provide publicity for performances, and sell food and umläuts at these same events; they lend their time on audition days to speak with parents of prospective C-dubs, and lend their homes for potluck dinners. Grant applications written by parents — along with financial contributions from parents (see ”Donation” question below) – have funded artists-in-residence and department supplies and software. This website was created and, for its first three years, maintained on a volunteer basis by a parent. As the saying goes, the ways you can help are limited only by your own imagination. To emphasize the importance of parent involvement, at least one parent/guardian is required to meet with director Heather Woodward at the outset of the prospective student’s audition.
When do I audition?
The main audition for the 2012-2013 school year auditions is January 12, 2013, with an application deadline of December 7, 2012.
How do I audition?
Auditioning for CW involves a combination of portfolio writing, an interview, and a prompt write. Portfolios must be submitted in advance of the audition.
What if I have other talents and interests?
No use denying it: the arts disciplines at SOTA, including Creative Writing, make significant demands on student time. Still, many students continue to participate and excel in areas beyond their emphasis. Current C-dub Mollie Cueva, for example, leads the school’s BuildOn club, which raises funds to build schools in third-world countries. Other C-dubs have been dedicated dancers, musicians, and photographers; they have donated significant time to community groups working with the homeless; they have interned at various museums throughout the city; they have participated in mock trial, debate, and in numerous cases, the theater. It’s not always easy, but it can be done, and the broadened involvement adds perspective and depth to the work produced within the department.
What about college?
Many parents wonder how college opportunities are affected by the intense, early focus of an arts school education. This is a multi-faceted issue– for example, it’s usually helpful to choose challenging Honors and AP classes outside the Creative Writing discipline time. Nevertheless, we can say that CW grads overwhelmingly go on to higher education, and do so at a wide range of national and international schools. The list of schools accepting SOTA C-dub graduates now includes Harvard, Yale, Columbia, NYU, Sarah Lawrence, McGill, Edinburgh, Mills, Shimer, Lewis and Clark, Bard, and various UC branches. Individual effort always trumps program elements, of course, but C-dub applications certainly get a boost from the emphasis on high-level writing and analytical skills, from close contacts with working writers, and from four years of internship, community service, and performance experience.
Who built this site?
In 2005 the original Creative Writing site was designed and built on a volunteer basis by CW parent Steve Kane, using Microsoft Front Page 2003, Adobe Photoshop, and other usual suspects. Steve served as volunteer webmaster through June of 2008, but beginning with the 2008-09 school year assumed webmaster duties on a contract basis. Steve provided most of the original written content and also adapted CW material from Program Director Heather Woodward and other staff and parents. For the 2011-2012 academic year, Heather Woodward initiated a Creative Writing website and blog internship. Heidi Alletzhauser, a SOTA parent, will be supervising two CW students on both the content transfer of the original website and the creation of a new blog using WordPress.
Who do I contact about the site?
Send site-related comments, questions or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.