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May 25, 2022

Scratch Pad

Founded as a way to celebrate creative talent at Ames High School, Scratch Pad has been a part of AHS history since 1962. Previously a publication put out by the Creative Writing Club, Scratch Pad was created to give budding novelists and poets a publisher for their works. As an annual publication, it was designed to feature not only outstanding pieces written for English classes, but also poems, short stories, and sketches. 

While Scratch Pad has a lengthy history, its own story did not always grace the AHS yearbook. The group was inactive through most of the ‘70’s and was renewed in the 80’s as a chance to spark interest in journalism careers. While Scratch Pad dealt with creative writing, students also got a taste of print journalism by working on the Web, oftentimes working hand-in-hand. The 1990 Spirit yearbook details the first year the production was taken outside of the district to be published in order to have a more professional look. 

Through the years one thing hasn’t changed; the emphasis of Scratch Pad has always been creativity. Students once had to review 400 entries, of which only 200 made the publication. 

“Our goal right now is to create a publication for this year, and then build on the momentum in the coming years,” says Kate Engelkes, AHS language arts teacher and Scratch Pad sponsor.

This year is Engelkes’ first as the Scratch Pad sponsor. She looks to renew the spirit of Scratch Pad and celebrate its history in the future. Plans include growing the editorial board, renewing interest with the student population, and improving the publication. “We would love for more people to be involved to create an even stronger future publication,” adds Engelkes.   

While the publication is the biggest part of Scratch Pad, the group also holds creative events. This year, they hosted an art and writing workshop evening with Iowa State University graduate students currently in creative writing and art programs. ISU students hosted mini-sessions on different aspects of creative work including collage making, nature journaling, creating compelling villains, playwriting, and more. 

“It was a really cool event, and provided an amazing opportunity for Ames High students to learn from ISU students,” said Engelkes. “We want to collaborate with these students in future workshop events.”

The group is finishing up this year’s publication which is available at the end of the school year. Copies are $5 and sold at the high school. 

To obtain a copy, contact