The name Taylor Swift has been ringing through school hallways since I was young, and now Minneapolis Public Schools offers Swiftie-inspired programming. There are three extracurricular Taylor Swift-inspired classes at MPS– two are after school classes at Lake Harriet Upper and Anderson United Middle, and one will be offered through Community Education at Kenwood Elementary this summer.

Students and staff alike are diehard fans of the global pop star, and teachers saw an opportunity to teach kids about journaling, being in tune with their own feelings, biographies and practicing creativity.

Swift has been a superstar for nearly two decades, but her stardom reached new heights with the 2022 release of the Grammy Award-winning album “Midnights” and the subsequent, ongoing Eras Tour. Each “era” of the tour refers to a Swift album, each of which has a distinct tone, color scheme and overall theme. The star began her career as a country singer and crossed over to pop with her 2012 album “Red.” Across these genres, Swift is known best for her emotional lyrics and songwriting skills.

Author Kristin Nilsen will teach Lake Harriet Upper’s “Creative Journaling Inspired by Taylor Swift” class starting March 12. Nilsen, whose favorite Swift era is “Fearless,” plans to introduce students to journaling as a form of self-expression through Swift’s music. She plans to connect the activities to her book, “Worldwide Crush,” which is a coming-of-age story about a girl who journals through her massive crush on a pop star.

“I realized that ‘Worldwide Crush’ and Taylor Swift were two sides of the same coin; the superfan and the superstar,” Nilsen said. “Together they make an enormous argument for why journaling can be so helpful to people of all ages.”

The class came to be when Nilsen watched Swift’s 2020 documentary “Miss Americana” about her comeback after a massive public drama involving Kanye West and heavy scrutiny.

“I got so excited when she held up her journal and told us how she poured her feelings into it and then turned these feelings into songs. This is why Taylor Swift is so popular; because her lyrics come directly from her journal,” Nilsen said.

Nilsen plans to lead students in examining the Swift songs that likely came from journal entries, then look at journal entries from “Worldwide Crush” and students can create their own entries. The class is intended to be a non-judgemental way to learn self-expression.

Kristin Nilsen will teach “Creative Journaling Inspired by Taylor Swift at Lake Harriet Upper. Photo courtesy of Kristin Nilsen

“I wanted to offer something that was just for their own personal, private experience. You can't be good or bad at journaling,” Nilsen said. “But it can help you understand your world and process your feelings and feel better about who you are.”

Registration for “Creative Journaling Inspired by Taylor Swift” is open to Lake Harriet Upper students grades four and five, and registration opened on March 1. The eight-week class starts on March 12.

Students will compare Taylor Swift’s journal-inspired songs with the journaling in the book “Worldwide Crush” by Kristin Nilsen. Photo courtesy of Foreword Reviews

Students are in the middle of their “Lavender Haze” at Anderson United Middle School. Teacher Seth Wester leads kids grades six through eight in “Anderson’s After School Taylor’s Version” on Wednesdays. The themes and content varies per week in Wester’s class. During the first two weeks, students learned about biographies in relation to Swift’s life and career. They made a timeline to display her biography to the class, while listening to her music of course.

In the third week, students explored the idea of friendship while making friendship bracelets, which became a symbol of Swift during the Eras Tour from a lyric in her song “You’re on Your Own, Kid.”

“So make the friendship bracelets/Take the moment and taste it,” Taylor sings during the emotional bridge of the song.

“While crafting, we discussed, ‘What does being a good friend mean to you? What is one quality that you look for in a good friend? Why should a friend be a good listener?’” Wester said.

The following week, students studied Swift’s poetry for imagery, tone and theme.

“It was fun seeing the students come together to decide what Taylor meant by her lyrics and what we as the audience should be taking away,” Wester said.

Each day will represent a different Swift era at the Taylor Swift Fan Club at Kenwood Elementary School during the Kenwood Super Summer Community Education session. Students of all genders will have the opportunity to make t-shirts, play with glitter, make friendship bracelets and design their own dresses out of paper.

“Taylor Swift is currently trending in every possible way, and we wanted to honor that and give boys, girls, and non-binary students a chance to explore their creative side with that expression,” MPS Community Education Adult and Youth Coordinator Nam Pham said.

The class, which is offered twice, lasts four days in June and July. Students in grades four through six are eligible to sign up for the Fan Club, and fees are charged on a sliding scale. Registration is open now.

This article was originally published on Southwest Voices