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U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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After reminiscing with fond memories, Class of 2024 graduates in Rockefeller Chapel

Noted author Sandra Cisneros shares how writing is powerful

Delaney Connell
MEETING A HERO. Sophomore Camila Bravo and Sandra Cisneros hug after Ms. Cisneros’ talk. “I grew up reading her work,” Camila said. “She inspired me to write my poems, so meeting her felt so good.”

In a visit to U-High on Oct. 23, renowned writer Sandra Cisneros explained that writing is essential to heal, connect with others and express oneself. She spoke to an audience that included ninth graders who had just finished “The House on Mango Street” as well as students in Latinx history and advanced Spanish classes, many of whom were excited to meet an author whose work they read in class.

Ms. Cisneros’ 1984 novel, “The House on Mango Street,” tells the coming-of-age story of a young girl, Esperanza, growing up in Chicago through a series of vignettes. The story has become a core part of U-High’s English 1 curriculum and was recently read by all ninth graders.

When describing the writing process for the novel, Ms. Cisneros, a Chicago native and former teacher, said she wrote it because she loved her students. 

“Whenever you create something with pure love, amor puro, on behalf of those you love, will always turn out well, if you do it from the heart,” she said. “I didn’t expect to get a dime. I didn’t expect anyone to read it. 

Ms. Cisneros gave further insight into her own writing process, sharing a draft of an unpublished essay. Later, Aris Mendoza, the screenwriter for a proposed adaptation of the novel, joined Ms. Cisneros and spoke on her work to authentically adapt the original work. 

Ms. Cisneros advised students to constantly write to express themselves.

“The most important writing you will do is the writing you can’t share. Even if you can’t keep it or complete it, you still don’t have to hold the emotions that are triggering in the past. You can process it by writing,” Ms. Cisneros said. “The biggest censor you have is yourself. The way I get past it is I give myself permission not to share. I can write it. I can think it, but I don’t have to share. What I need to do is process it. I need to let it go in whatever art form I’m comfortable with, whether it’s words or dance, song or sculpture, whatever it is, but you don’t have to hold onto it.”

A handful of students were able to ask questions, including sophomore Maya Livni, who asked Ms. Cisneros how she struck a balance between beauty and pain in her writing. After the hourlong event, Maya and a large group of students spoke to Ms. Cisneros one-on-one to share how her work has impacted them.

“The book was just so powerful to me,” Maya said in an interview with the Midway. “I didn’t read it the first time in school. My mom read it to me as a little girl, and then I reread it and reread and reread it — and then I read it in school. So meeting somebody who is such a big part of my life and has been a huge part of growing up was just so powerful.”

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About the Contributors
Mia Lipson
Mia Lipson, News Editor
Mia Lipson is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as news editor. She began journalism in the 2021-22 school year as a ninth grader and previously served as an assistant editor. Her favorite story she has written is a profile on retiring P.E. teacher Terri Greene. Outside of journalism, she enjoys running, writing and reading any history book she can find. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, staff editorial: superior 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Superior, editorial writing
Delaney Connell
Delaney Connell, Photographer
Delaney Connell is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2026. Her favorite part of photojournalism is taking photos for school sports and school events. Outside of photojournalism, Delaney enjoys taking walks with her dog, talking with her brother and cooking.

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  • J

    JoanOct 26, 2023 at 9:18 am

    Amazing piece Mia Lipson!!!!!!!!!!!

  • B

    BrianOct 25, 2023 at 8:05 pm

    Wow Mia! Congrats this story is so inspiring. You did such a great job covering it!