Full Day Writing Workshop for Bridgeport Students – Writing Our Lives
“I love poetry. I love anything to do with art,” noted Reed Middle School student Deborah Pierre. She confessed she would love to write a book one day. “I already started one, and now I think I’ll finish it,” added the ebullient eighth grader.
Classmate Felipe Silva was interested in spending time at Fairfield University. “I know some people who went here, and all I hear are great things about it.” The morning workshop he attended stressed the importance of writing for success in college and was led by Will Johnson, associate dean of students, and Nakia Letang, associate director of undergraduate admission.
Organized by Dr. Bryan Ripley Crandall, assistant professor and director of the Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield, the Writing our Lives conference highlighted the importance of writing in and out of school in a wide variety of genres, from poetry to writing for college, to creative non-fiction, to journalism. The conference was sponsored in part by Bank of America.
Bob Albert, a presenter at the conference who worked with artist Gordon Skinner to lead a workshop on writing about art, stated, “It was a truly inspiring experience to work with the kids - very smart kids with great ideas. What Writing Our Lives-Bridgeport put together will be a memorable experience for the kids who attended. I wish I had gone to something like that when I was in school. All the parties involved were great.”
Judging by the buzz in the room, punctuated by laughter at key points, keynote speaker, author, and poet Kwame Alexander had the middle and high school students completely engaged as he recited snippets from his poems and stressed that saying “Yes!” to opportunities led to his career as a writer, publisher and educator.
“The one word I can use to describe the conference was ‘amazing!’” said Dr. Crandall. “Although we had pre-registration for 68 students, over 115 were in attendance! We made 140 writer's notebooks, and every single one of them was distributed, with requests from many who wanted additional journals to take home with them.” Best of all, he added, “The afternoon turned into an autograph festival where students wanted presenters to write notes in their journals.”
The Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield is one of three National Writing Project locations in the state. Each year the CWP works at Fairfield University and other universities to sponsor summer institutes for teachers and to offer youth programming with a mission to promote best practices for writing. This summer, there will be two sessions of the 2013 Young Writers' Institute for students in grades 6-to-12. Applications and more details are available at www.cwpfairfield.org.
"Students who attended the Writing Our Lives conference left equipped with valuable communications skills that will help them succeed in school and the workplace," said Bill Tommins, Southern Connecticut market president, Bank of America. "This conference was an excellent example of local schools, institutions of higher education, and the business community working together to create opportunities for the young people in the area."