Next Gen II highlights writing, poetry of West Las Vegas students | Community

Last weekend, the 100% Community Center on the campus of West Las Vegas High School hosted Next Gen II, featuring the writing and poetry from many West Las Vegas students.

Last weekend, the 100% Community Center on the campus of West Las Vegas High School hosted Next Gen II, featuring the writing and poetry from many West Las Vegas students. The event was part of the writing club at WLV started by teachers AJ and Katie Lopez. The two started the writing club last year when the school was still in virtual learning as a way to engage students outside of the classroom, but it’s turned into one of the most popular clubs on the high school campus, and more importantly has given the students an avenue to express themselves. One of the highlights of the club is poetry, and the students have really taken to it.

“Seeing poetry in action by their peers is something that’s been really enlightening for them,” AJ Lopez said. “Maybe they had this idea that poetry was Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson, and I think for these kids seeing that poetry is not just that and seeing that poetry can really be yours is something that really inspired them.”

The guidelines that AJ and Katie Lopez established early on was that there were no rules about what could be written or no judgment, it was all about expression. The freedom to express themselves through their poetry, writing or art is something that has attracted a large number of students to their organization. The signature of the club, though, is not just the numbers, it is the level of engagement from the students. A lot of extracurricular academic activities in high school are simply to check a box for college in the case of many students, for WLV writing club that has not been the case.

“Writing club is usually seen as, like, nerdy,” Katie Lopez said. “But these kids from all walks of life don’t see it as nerdy, they even think it’s cool… I love how it’s sort of influenced everybody in our school, not just in our club, but outside of it as well.”

At their event on Sunday, the club had 23 students present at the 100% Community Center to a full house of audience members. In the future, writing club meetings and events will be held in the new Kiva auditorium, which will house the WLV fine arts program, giving these students a home for their clubs and their craft.

“We have amazing students, they’re smart but they’re also so expressive and passionate and humble,” Katie Lopez said. “We’re just blown away at how great they really are, and we want to let people know in our community that we have amazing students.”

The event was hosted at the 100% Community Center and sponsored by the Las Vegas Arts Council. The goal of 100% San Miguel is to end childhood trauma. The way they intend to do that is by providing 10 vital services. Among the services are youth mentoring and education, that is what (writing club) is. It provides an opportunity for adults in the community to help and mentor children, while also improving their education and broadening their horizons.

“Not only are they using their writing as therapy, but they’re also gaining self confidence in public speaking,” AJ Lopez said. “They’re becoming better people, it’s almost a weird thing to see some of these kids who just started writing club last year, and now they just exude confidence.”

The turnout at their most recent event, and the growth in participation the writing club has seen this year, bodes well for its future. After Next Gen II last Sunday, the writing club and its members are excited for the next event and the future of the organization


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