Students are given instruction in various writing formats including fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and drama. The focus is on positive, thoughtful, and informative analysis of writing.

We employ engaging writing prompts to help spark the flow of expression within specific time frames. The goal is to turn off the inner editor to get ideas and thoughts down as spontaneously as possible. Writing instructors and students (usually a 1:8 ratio or smaller) provide constructive feedback to help guide revision.

The environment is designed to be stimulating, inspiring, and fun.

  • When: 9:00-11:30 Mondays-Fridays June 12-23 or Deep Dive June 12-30
  • Where: World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park, Gaslight Theater, Webster Christian Church, St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Art Museum, Concordia Park in DeMun
  • Cost The cost of the two-week session is $300 and $425 for students who would like to continue for the third week Deep Dive.


Fiction…..Students learn about the basic elements of fiction: plot, character, setting, and theme with a particular focus on conflict development, voice, point-of-view, and dialogue.

Poetry…..Students learn poetry terms and write narrative, free verse, and formal poetry including sestina, sonnet, villanelle, and other forms.

Creative Nonfiction…..The most popular form of literature outselling fiction 10:1. This genre is all about writing a real story using fictive elements like conflict, setting, dialogue, developed characters, and a plotline.

Drama…..Just like any story, a play must have a beginning, middle & end. Students work on a one-act play and are taught the nine elements of playwriting including— dramatic conflict, strategies for dealing with the conflict, logical behavior, cause & effect, plot obstacles, forward action, developed character arc, and theatricality.

Guest Artists
Syna So Pro, 
Syrhea Conaway, is a one-woman band who uses a multiplex of effects pedals, rack units, mixers, several instruments, and drum beats to create her live sound. It can best be described as musical performance art as she dances on an array of pedals, plays the violin, guitar, keys, bass and sings to create a wall of sound stitched together by Conaway herself. While Conaway sings about emotional rebirth through self-discovery and challenges of bringing us closer to ourselves, Syna So Pro is the musical glue that weaves the messaging and music together.

Nancy Bell is an award-winning actor, playwright, and director with particular interests in poetic language, highly theatrical staging and stylized performance techniques. She is an Assistant Professor of Theater and Voice and Speech at St. Louis University. She explores themes of social justice, power, and environmental crisis through the exploration of everyday human interaction. As a professional actor of more than twenty years, Nancy has worked most often on stylized theatrical texts. Most of her roles have been ones that require technical proficiency in voice, speech, dialects or movement. She specializes in roles that require intelligence, wit, and humor. Much of her acting work has been classical, including Moliere, Shaw, Shakespeare, and Ionesco. Nancy has often worked with playwrights on new plays, as well. She is also a playwright and writes about power, both political and personal. As the resident playwright at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Nancy Bell writes contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare based on original research conducted in diverse St. Louis neighborhoods. Each play requires a year of research, interviews, and outreach in a specific neighborhood in our city.

After dabbling in the short story genre for several years, Michael Currinder took the plunge and wrote his first YA novel, RUNNING FULL TILT. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where he ran cross-country and track, and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he majored in English Literature. His first novel is a hybrid of his collective experiences as a talented high school runner and his close, yet complicated, relationship with his older autistic sibling. His next novel is set in Central America and focuses on a group of high school students on a summer service learning trip. As things unravel they learn more about themselves and what it’s like living in the developing world. Mike has been an international educator for close to two decades, having lived in China, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Mike and his wife, Dana, are now on year nine in Tokyo with their rescue dog, Leo.

Prepping for the summer session at Pi Pizza in the Loop!

Interns for the Summer Session
Lily Ibur is a 2015 graduate of Clayton High School. She performs in a band with her sister called Bella & Lily and after signing a management deal in 2016 decided to pursue a career in music. In addition to working as a singer/songwriter, Lily was a student in Gifted Arts for six years and has worked as an intern for two years. She and her sister, Bella, have performed and worked with producers in Nashville, Austin, New York, and Los Angeles. You can check them out at or on Facebook under

Sydney Cimarolli is completing her junior year at Webster Groves High School. Sydney has been a part of the Gifted Arts since 2012. She was a finalist in the Labute New Theater Festival in 2015 and received a Gold and Silver key in the 2017 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Aside from writing, Sydney enjoys reading, acting, and hiking.

Max Rodhouse is a freshly graduated senior at McKinley CLA. He was born and raised in St. Louis and grew up in a South City neighborhood called Dutchtown. Max has been a student of Gifted Arts since 2014. When he is not writing, Max enjoys performing on stage, watching movies, playing video games, and reading comics and plays. He is an avid James Bond fan.

Ella Genoese is completing her junior at Nerinx Hall High School. She has been a student of The Gifted Arts Program since 2013. Ella won the River Styx Founder’s Award for Poetry and Silver Keys for a Photography and Short Story in the 2017 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Alongside writing, she enjoys reading, watching and making short films, and visual art.

Olivia Bickford is entering her junior year at Webster Groves High School. She has been in Gifted Arts since the summer before seventh grade. Olivia is involved in Webster Groves High A Cappella and has been featured in the school’s literary magazine, The Branch. She is looking forward to working with the younger kids in the program this coming summer.


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