|Zoomed in view of the opening ceremony|
Every year our local college, Youngstown State University (YSU), holds the English Festival. The English Festival began in 1978 in memory of Candace Gay, the thirteen-year-old daughter of two English professors, who died of cancer. Over three days approximately 200 schools - 3,000 students - from three surrounding counties in Ohio and two from Pennsylvania participate in the annual events.
|Zoomed out view...and this is just straight ahead...|
not my right, left, or behind!
But what is it exactly? Students in grades 7-12 read from an assigned list of seven books over the winter months and in April attend a full day of activities on YSU campus. Activities range from fun games to serious writing competitions. There are many prizes handed out, from stacks of books to hundreds of dollars. Students spend the day surrounded by book talk, other readers, and guest speaker authors such as Chris Crutcher, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Christopher Paul Curtis, to name a few. The festival has done wonders for my personally signed collection.
English Festival has become quite the tradition. As a student I attended almost every year from grades 7-12. And for most of the past ten years I've taken Mohawk students, hoping they find the pure joy in reading and being surrounded by a reading community that I did at their age. Not to mention, YSU is my alma mater, so it's always like going home.
This year my colleague and I took a small group of 10th and 11th grade students on April 22nd. The cool thing about the trip is that students are assigned a schedule of events to attend. With plenty of adult help present, students go about their day without their teachers, so it ends up a nice day for teachers and chaperones to enjoy the campus when their duties are done. I reconvened with my students and colleague at the end of the day for the awards ceremony. Many schools take 15-30 students, while I usually end up with 5-10. But every year, we never fail to win something. This year it was a jackpot. One of our 11th graders won 1st place in the journalism writing, which was $150! Students meet with the guest speaker in a conference type setting, asking questions and taking notes. They are then given time to write a journalistic article about the guest speaker. Every single school receives one student schedule with the journalism opportunity, so we are talking first place of dozens of other schools!
|Supervising the back section of Writing Games teams.|
We also take grades 7-9 on the junior high day, which for us is always the Friday after senior high attends. Fun part of the day this year was that my daughter attended with her own school and we were able to eat lunch together! As for Mohawk, I took four freshmen girls and they had a ton of fun! Once again, we left with a prize. One of my students' team won fourth place for Writing Games. When she came back she told me she was shocked because they hadn't even finished it completely before time was up. I supervised writing games that morning and with two sessions there were at least 70 teams participating. They received fourth place of 70 teams without having even finished the assignment?!
I was a very proud teacher and mother that week.