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home : education : schools July 27, 2015


6/11/2013 1:20:00 PM
Sisters Middle School has 29 published authors
Sisters Middle School students celebrated being published last week. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Sisters Middle School students celebrated being published last week. photo provided


Tweeting may be quick, but students still need to learn how to write, and write well. Young people are finding that most good Information Age jobs require writing skills.

So, how can our schools get kids excited about writing? Sisters Middle School is using a program which creates published authors to meet that need. This year, 29 students have been published.

Each student received a copy of their book, "Fabulous Fantasies from Sisters Middle School," containing their collection of stories and artwork. The print book was published by Createspace, an Amazon.com company. An e-book was also created. Both editions are available for purchase to customers in the United States, Great Britain, Europe and may other countries served by Amazon.com's distribution network.

The official publication party for the new authors was held at Sisters Middle School on June 4. Family, friends and representatives from the nine program sponsors were on hand to congratulate the students. Scottish terriers, Harry, Lola and Bernie, who regularly came to school to inspire the kids' stories, were also at the party.

"This is the second book from Sisters Middle School students. But, as far as I can tell, Sisters Middle School is the only school in the country doing this kind of thing with Amazon's publishing group," said Jean Nave, author of the "Harry and Lola Adventure" series of books about her rescued Scotties. "Since our first middle school book was published last year, I've talked to a number of teachers, and even a home-schooling group, about this project, but none of them have done anything with it, yet."

The project was a major effort for students, their teacher, Susie Werts, and volunteers, Jean and Claude Nave.

"This is a big project, but like anything big, it offers great impact, too," said Jean. "Because of this project's inspiration, some of these kids are going to be writers. They've learned a lot about deadlines and editing, but they've also learned how exciting it can be to have others read their work and really like what they've written."

"I was really impressed by the kids," said Zeta Seiple, a board member of Friends of the Sisters Library, who is one of the program's sponsors. "The kids were so happy at the party, and their stories are very creative. It's obvious that they have great respect for their teacher (Susie Werts) and they enjoyed working with Jean."

Each year, the surprise of the book party is, "Whose art will be on the cover?" Cover art selection was accomplished by asking for input from some of the program sponsors. This year's cover was created by Ray H. (The book is available worldwide, causing the school to choose to withhold last names, ensuring student privacy.)

When the cover was seen, many of the students agreed that Ray's dragon was both beautiful and appropriate, as there are five stories featuring seven dragons in the book.

Werts coordinated a select group of students who were chosen by their teachers to participate in the project. Then, each student was "interviewed," to determine their true level of commitment to this demanding process.

"This is a great opportunity for the students," said Werts, "but kids are so busy today that we had to limit the program to students who were truly committed. The students had to adhere to very strict deadlines because of the fixed date when school ends."

The program began in 2012, when author Jean Nave approached Werts with the idea of using today's new technology to publish a book of student stories.

In addition to all the effort required by students, teachers and volunteers, having program sponsors that can help with the purchase of the published books is critical to making this program a success.

"Please let us say thanks to our community sponsors who gave money, products and time," said Werts. "We can't do this without them, and I see, first-hand, the difference this program has made to students. In some cases, it's the difference between wanting to come to school or not. It's that important to some of them."

Sponsors included Black Butte Ranch, Ray's Food Place, Mid-Oregon Credit Union, Friends of the Sisters Library, Western Title & Escrow, Aspen Lakes Book Club, Aberdeen Scottish Terrier Rescue, Harry and Lola Books, and Catherine Black, Broker.

"This is such a powerful program that we are hoping to make it an on-going offering," said Werts. "If the sponsors will stay with us, we'll commit to the added effort."

Last year's book was Animal Adventures from Sisters Middle School. It's obvious the students enjoy exploring creative topics. What theme will the kids come up with for next year's book?

For more information or to volunteer to help with this program, contact Jean Nave at jean@harryandlola.org.





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