Arts Academy Boarding School: Creative Writing Major

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The creative writing program at Interlochen Arts Academy boarding high school provides guidance, support and numerous opportunities for young writers. Students in the creative writing program study and create poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, hybrid genres, and screenwriting with a faculty of writer–educators. The goal of the program is to help young writers cultivate their talents and broaden their command of the writer's craft at all levels.

The Creative Writing Division offers a curriculum designed to help young writers cultivate their talents, develop their imaginations, broaden their command of the writer’s craft at all levels, and to teach them how to read like writers. Fiction and poetry workshops form the core of the program, and students are encouraged to choose from a variety of electives in other genres. Becoming adept at a broad range of genres gives students more versatility and control in their writing and provides a strong preparation for college. Just as the developing writer must learn to write, so must the developing writer learn to listen, to see, and to read critically. Thus all classes involve reading, thinking deeply about, and discussing writing models. Through individualized mentorship and intensive workshops, faculty seek to instill in students an awareness of their challenges and strengths and to empower them with the patience and self-discipline needed to hone their own unique voices and visions. Students leave the program with a portfolio of carefully revised work in a variety of genres.

Core Curriculum

Course Number


Grade Level(s)

Course Title


Fall and Spring

9,10,11,12, PG

Writing Workshop

CRW301 & 302  CRW303 & 304

Fall and Spring

New 9,10,11,12,PG

Elements of Poetry

Elements of Fiction

CRW305 & 306

Fall and Spring


Introduction to Screenwriting




The Writing of Non-Fiction




Literary Publications




Advanced Screenwriting


Spring (2021)


Hybrid Genres*




Writing the Fantastic


Fall (2020)


Experiments in Poetry: Laws and Wildness*




Writing the Novel


Fall (2021)


Writing the Body*


Spring (2022)


Writing About Music and Writing Musically*




Sense of Place

A new Creative Writing student must take (a) Workshop and (b) Elements of Poetry and Fiction in his/her first year. Workshops rotate between Fiction, Poetry, and Nonfiction (prerequisite for Nonfiction Workshop is the The Writing of Nonfiction elective). Workshop placement is determined by Creative Writing faculty on the basis of student interest, portfolios, and the need for balanced workshop sizes. Returning seniors are eligible to apply for a one-semester Capstone projects in lieu of Workshop. Capstone Projects are contingent on faculty approval.

After the first year, majors must take Workshop and one other writing course.  In their junior and senior years, majors are encouraged (not required) to take three creative writing courses.  

Majors are also required to attend one-on-one tutorials with their writing instructors on a weekly basis, and they are expected to participate fully in all program activities, including all visiting writer events, student readings and faculty readings.

For information on graduation requirements and academic curriculum, please visit Academy Academics.

How to Apply

  1. Prepare the materials listed here: portfolio requirements
  2. Complete the online application
  3. Submit your portfolio materials in the Academy Education Community

Students may begin at the Academy in ninth grade, or transfer in as a sophomore, junior, senior, or post-graduate.

Though not required, a campus visit is recommended. You can tour the campus, visit classes, and possibly take in a performance or reading. You can meet and talk with students who are living the Academy experience. You may also arrange for a portfolio review.

Our admission representatives are here to help you in any way they can. If you wish to talk with someone about Academy programs, the application process, a campus visit, portfolio presentations, or other topics, they will be happy to work with you. Simply call 800.681.5912 or 231.276.7472 or email

Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Scholarship Competition

Applications to the Creative Writing program for the Fall 2021 school year will automatically be considered for the Virginia B. Ball Scholarship.

View the Submission Guidelines

Awards and Recognition

Nineteen Interlochen Arts Academy Creative Writing students have been named Presidential Scholars in the Arts. Writers from Interlochen regularly earn national recognition in contests including the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts' youngARTS competition and The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Recent graduates have won the Gold Portfolio Awards in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards contest and been selected as finalists in the youngARTS competition, as well as placing in numerous regional and national contests for high school writers.

Graduates go on to attend a wide array of small liberal arts colleges and larger universities. Recent graduates have attended Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Stanford University, Columbia College Chicago, New York University, Emerson College, Knox College, Oberlin College, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Bard College, Reed College, Agnes Scott College, Barnard College and Boston University, among others. 

Notable Alumni

  • Julie Buntin, novelist
  • Brittany Cavallaro, poet and Young Adult novelist
  • Kea Wilson, novelist
  • Mary Stewart Atwell, novelist
  • Alex Kahler, Young Adult novelist
  • Mohammed Naseehu Ali, author
  • Terry Apter, author
  • David Blum, journalist and editor
  • David Bowman, author
  • Karin Gottshall, poet
  • Julia Lieblich, author
  • Jennifer Lynch, film director
  • Jay Peterzell, investigative reporter
  • Lisa Powers, art director/designer, Newsweek
  • Josh Rathkamp, poet
  • Teresa Scollon, poet
  • Paula Sharp, novelist
  • Faith Shearin, poet
  • David Shenk, author
  • Doug Stanton, author
  • Jeffrey Taylor, journalist
  • Pamela White Hadas, poet

The Writing House

The Writing House provides an inviting and spacious home for the creative writing program and offers students comfortable quiet writing spaces complete with indoor and outdoor fireplaces and a kitchen, wireless internet access, a literary publications room with computer and printing stations, and a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system for guest, faculty and student readings. 360-degree virtual tour.

Student Publications


Mika Perrine

Instructor of Creative Writing, Interlochen Arts Academy

M.F.A., Creative Writing, University of Michigan; B.A., English Literature (with honors), Brown University; Interlochen Arts Academy

Joe Sacksteder

Director of Creative Writing, Interlochen Center for the Arts; Instructor of Creative Writing, Interlochen Arts Camp

Ph.D. Candidate, English Literature and Creative Writing, University of Utah; M.A., Creative Writing, Eastern Michigan University; B.A., Creative Writing and Music Composition, St. John's University

Dr. Brittany Cavallaro

Faculty, Interlochen Novel Writing Institute; Instructor of Creative Writing, Interlochen Arts Academy

Ph.D, English literature, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; M.F.A., creative writing, University of Wisconsin-Madison; B.A., American literature (magna cum laude), Middlebury College; high school diploma, creative writing, Interlochen Arts Academy

Lesley Alicia Tye

Instructor of Film and New Media and Creative Writing, Interlochen Arts Academy

M.F.A., Creative Writing with emphasis in Screenwriting, National University; B.F.A., Filmic Writing, University of Southern California; Interlochen Arts Academy alumna

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