Odyssey Oracles shine a light on student creativity

A student at Oakhill Correctional this semester with his copy of the newest Oracle

Why do I write? It’s simple. I write for me! I write to find me. I write to know me. I write to speak to myself so I can talk to you. Writing is my voice. It helps me feel and connect.

– Anthony, student in English 100 at Oakhill Correctional

In Odyssey Beyond Bars’s English 100 course, students produce challenging, personal written work, and a big part of the class is learning how to share those unique perspectives with others. The OBB Oracle helps make it happen.

Periodically throughout the semester, OBB collects and reprints student writing in a professionally produced classroom publication, the Oracle, that shows students their own words in print alongside those of their classmates. As one student said, “Seeing my words in the Oracle really made me feel like a published author!” The Oracle, a longtime fixture of Odyssey’s community-based classes, builds academic confidence while allowing students to find common ground in their experiences and views.

With the OBB expansion this semester, the Oracle is now a part of English 100 courses across four prisons in the state. The OBB team collaborates with more than 10 staff, faculty, and volunteers who work on editing, layout, graphic design, and printing, to get Oracles into the hands of all our students. As instructor Jen Fandel says, “It’s all worth it when students’ eyes light up at the sight of their words in print.”

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