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I thought I would write today about something that is very important to me and something I have been working on for years. I attended out local Writing Project’s Summer Institute back in 2000. Since completion of the course I have stayed active within the project. I have coached and presented at later Institutes. I have co-facilitated the Institute two years. I was asked to be continuity coordinator.
I have enjoyed doing all of these things. However, there was one thing that I really felt strongly about that I wanted to see happen in our area. Our Writing Project did not have any kind of youth program. I wanted to change that. I spoke with our then director about it and she gave me the green light to look into it and try to put something together.
I was excited. I started off by visiting two nearby sites, West Chester and Lehigh Valley. Both had successful up-and-running youth summer programs. I spend a day at each gathering information and ideas. I brought back what I had learned and with a group of other interested TCs set about working on a plan.
It did not happen overnight…in fact it took a few years until everything fell into place. Finally it happened. We started small. We only had two sessions to offer…one for Middle School students and one for High School students. We were an add-on to one of the universities summer programs. It did not go well. Our teachers didn’t like enjoy the experience and if they didn’t then is wasn’t that great for the students as well.
Back to the drawing board.We had a new director and she was really excited about the program and had some great ideas. She wanted to bring in a guest author during the week to do a workshop with the students. Oh Wow! I was all for the idea. I think our first author was Ralph Fletcher.
This got the instructors excited as well as the students who applied. They had a chance to meet and work with someone whose books they have read. Out enrollment increased.
Over the years our numbers continued to rise. We have had authors such as Gordon Korman, Jack Gantos, Gareth Hinds, and Rich Wallace in to speak to our young writers. We also increased our sessions to include something for students from grade one to twelfth grade.
We hit a slump a couple of years ago due to a scandal at the university..I won’t mention which one. That year we were told that we could not run our academy. I was upset. The following year we were given the green light again but we had lost quite a bit of momentum. We had to build it up again. This year I am pleased to say that we have seven offerings for students in grades one to twelve. We will not have a guest author (funds)but I am still excited. I have great people interested in conducting the sessions.
We have a poetry session and a life experience writing session for grades 1 – 3. We have a poetry and science fiction/fantasy writing session for grades 4 – 8. We have a college essay writing session, science fiction/fantasy session, and writing creative nonfiction session for grades 9-12.
Flyers are being printed and information is going out soon. I am psyched! Hope we have a good enrollment.