Ideas Matter: How VSA Helped Transform My Writing Ideas Matter: How VSA Helped Transform My Writing By Isabella, Grade 8 Think. Think. Think. I repeated to myself. Surrounding me were pieces of scribbled and scrunched up paper. Over the past few days, I had been stuck in the writing process. Sighing, I looked down at the empty notepad below me. The sight of a blank state seemed to infuriate my brain even more, as my ideas kept on involuntarily popping in and out of my head. Think. Think. Think. I was stuck in a cycle of writing my ideas down, hating it, scribbling it, and starting over with a new piece of paper. “Why can’t I write any-“ My thoughts were interrupted by the sudden knock at my door. It was my mother. She opened the door with a huge smile plastered across her face. “Hi sweetie. Just wanted to let you know that I signed you up for a summer writing course!” She walked over, sat down and showed me her phone. A few taps on the screen later revealed a website with the letters: VSA. I took her phone and scrolled down, reading some of the essays that students had written. I recall the fascinating topics catching my eye. I also noticed the advanced writing techniques. Could this be a breakthrough for my writing? I thought curiously. My first VSA class was an unforgettable experience. During class, we covered a variety of materials, such as writing, grammar, vocabulary, and reading. Each new skill was covered thoroughly and with expertise. I could feel my peers and teachers pushing me to write more knowledgeably, hence the academic essay topic: “Should Pluto Be Reclassified As An Official Planet?” Having never written such intriguing topics, I was hesitant about whether or not I would be able to put complicated thoughts into well written sentences. That night as I sat at my desk, my mind wandered to the Pluto essay topic but my hands were still. Think. Think. Think. I internally screamed while having trouble forming all of my thoughts into one essay. Idling in my chair for thirty minutes, I pondered the idea of planetary characteristics, something I had never thought about before. Nevertheless, my brain was still tangled with all the ideas floating around throughout my head. By the end of the night, with the help of the planner I made in class, I was able to create a decent essay. As soon as I turned on my computer the next day in class, colorful highlights and texts appeared in front of me. Looking closer, I saw that my entire essay was filled with improvement recommendations, such as how to connect my evidence with analysis, how I could have phrased my sentence better and how my essay structure should be formed. The detailed feedback given to me was a pivotal moment in improving my writing. Seeing how much time and effort my teacher had put into each student’s progress is definitely what makes VSA different from other classes I have taken. Additionally, listening to my peers’ work inspired me to write even more. Throughout the weeks of taking my VSA summer class, I learned a variety of comprehensive skills to improve my writing. Specifically, I can develop an academic essay writing structure, focused literary analysis, and narrative fictional legends. A few weeks after taking the class, I found myself sitting down at my desk again. Surprisingly, thoughts from my head easily translated into writing. With the support of my teacher, my thoughts flowed out smoothly and I began to feel inspired again. The most measurable progress I made throughout my course was my ability to integrate facts and opinions to support my ideas rather than unnecessarily overthinking the topic. It is normal for students to lose motivation at times while writing. Thanks to my VSA summer program, I learned new skills from expert feedback and instruction that helped me advance my writing for any task. Writing is one of the most essential tools to incorporate into everyday life, and after taking this program, I can express myself freely. I want to thank the VSA program and my teacher for allowing me to learn an abundance of useful techniques that I will be able to implement in the future.