To spread the word about Wild Words: an Adirondack Teen Writing Anthology, ACW visited over 250 students at AuSable Valley Central School. Our communication manager Tyler Barton and intern Maggie Hayes (St. Lawrence University) led writing workshops for the entire 7th, 8th, and 9th grades.

The outreach—which ACW is offering to any interested Adirondack middle or high school (just send us an email!)—introduced students to the unique opportunity Wild Words offers Adirondack teenagers: the chance to have their voices heard and to see their creative writing published in a beautiful, printed book. Wild Words is open for submissions of creative writing from Adirondack teens aged 13 – 19 until March 10, 2023.

The visits were far from simply a pitch for the anthology. All students were led through a 40-min generative writing lesson on expressing identity through creative writing. Tyler’s students were asked to consider their own names and the ideas behind them. They explored questions like: “Where does your name come from and what does it mean?” and “What does your name mean to you?” Through studying Elizabeth Acevedo’s “Names” and researching their names using an etymological database, students explored the history of their given names and nicknames.

Maggie’s lesson focused on the subject of place, asking questions like, “What do our homes say about who we are?” and “Which specific details make your favorite places special, memorable, and meaningful to you?” Using an exercise adapted from George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From” poem, Maggie showed students how to collect details and turn them into a poignant poem about the places that make us who we are.

Adirondack Center for Writing is eager to teach young people how to express themselves through writing, and we can’t wait to publish their poetry, short stories, short memoirs, personal essays, sci-fi, and fantasy pieces in the first issue of Wild Words in the spring of 2023.

We also want to thank Heather Gottlob (9th Grade English teacher), Mr. Inman (8th grade English teacher), and Mr. Campagna (7th Grade English teacher), and all of the students at AuSable Valley Central School for making our visit such a pleasure. Lastly, special thanks to our incredible intern, Maggie Hayes, for coordinating and scheduling these school visits to her alma mater!

Here’s a reflection on the visit from Heather Gottlob, 9th grade English teacher:

I recently had Tyler Barton and Maggie Napper, both from the Adirondack Center for Writing, join my classroom to meet with each of my 9th-grade classes. They led them through some wonderful activities and a writing exercise that resulted in students creating some amazing work in such a small amount of class time. Tyler and Maggie were engaging, respectful of the classroom and had obviously spent much time planning for their visit, as they were able to capture the students’ interest and foster an activity that they not only felt comfortable with but also eager to participate in. It was particularly special, too, to have Maggie take part in my classroom, as she was a former student and Class of 2020 AuSable Valley graduate. It was amazing to see how she has blossomed since having her as a student and to see her working with the Adirondack Center for Writing on a new publication called Wild Words, a print anthology of creative writing by teens living in the Adirondacks and greater North Country area. The workshop Tyler and Maggie offered the students enabled them to find their comfort zone with writing and have a voice that could be heard.

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