A student once told me after a writing critique that she felt like she was on American Idol and I have to admit there is a little bit of that feeling for me each semester especially on the first night of class. Like American Idol's talent judges, I can't help but make some snap assessments based on first impressions. Often I am wrong, assuming that a student will be disinterested or their writing too pedantic, based solely on their appearance. I love it when I am wrong. I love giving them that first assignment -- tonight appropriately enough I asked them to write on first impressions -- and holding my breath in expectation as they read their first sentences. Sometimes inside I breathe as sigh of relief, sometimes I catch my breath excited at the promise and potential. I love seeing the students grow, listening as they develop and hone their voices. By the end, each of them will surprise me with stories I could not imagine on that first day. Tonight was the start of a new semester and these students did not disappoint. Their stories sing.