Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The fun starts today!

For the next three Wednesdays, 26 Tunkhannock Area Middle School students will stay after school. No, they're not in detention, getting extra help, or participating in sports. They are the remarkable kids who have volunteered for a debut program: Readers Meeting Writers.

The Readers Meeting Writers program is the brainchild of Erica Rogler and Margie Young of the Wyoming County Cultural Center at the Dietrich Theater. For years, the Dietrich has sponsored a Wyoming County Reads program for adults, in which interested folks read and discuss a single title over the course of a few weeks. The program has been quite successful and they thought - why not create a similar program for teens?

That's where I come in. Last summer, Erica and Margie called me with a proposal: they'd like to launch a Wyoming County Reads type program for middle school and they'd like to use Risking Exposure as the assigned book. The perk for the students was that I was local, and so could share my experiences about the creative process too. I was blown away. Obviously, I accepted immediately.

In the months that followed, we met a number of times and recruited the needed help. Hildy Morgan joined us, as did Sara Ergott, a middle school Language Arts teacher. Sara acted as our liaison with the Tunkhannock Area School District administration, who gave us their full support. We created goals and schedules and plans, revised them, tweaked them. And we launched.

In late January, in front of 600 middle school students, teachers, and administrators, we presented the ideas behind Risking Exposure and the Readers Meeting Writers program. The response has been phenomenal.

So this afternoon, we begin. The students will have read the first four chapters of Risking Exposure for today's session. They'll receive a journal to document their thoughts. We'll discuss plot and character and theme, history and today's world. We'll look at how hard it is to stand alone, the power of propaganda, and who we call a hero. We'll talk, we'll get physical, we'll sing and laugh and create and write.
And we'll grow. All of us will benefit from our time together. Especially me.

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