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Finding the Words Young Authors Program at CICS Wrightwood Campus produces future authors


by R.J. McMahon

Throughout the school year, teachers and school leaders are on a constant lookout for opportunities to engage students in discovering, exploring, and learning. The ultimate hope is that the students will have their own “a-ha” moments when they realize: “I can do this” or “I already know that.”

age,” said CICS Wrightwood director Eva Wilson. “There is no better way to get students excited about learning than to allow them to create something on their own, something in which they can take pride.”

The Illinois Statewide Young Authors Conference was just this opportunity for Chicago International Wrightwood: a perfect chance to bring the campus community together while cultivating students’ creative juices. Teachers and administrators encouraged every student to participate in the conference, which is sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Language and Literary Council. The guidelines state:

The Wrightwood students submitted their literary works to their classroom teachers, and three winners from each classroom were submitted (L to R) Jazmine Jordan (4th grade), Sydney Dukes (3rd grade), Javonte Finch (highlighted below), Lauryn Smith (2nd grade), and Devonta Dickey to the next phase of the (6th grade). contest. Each classroom winner had a chance to represent CICS Wrightwood in the city-wide competition and earned a field trip to Borders Bookstore with a $10 Borders gift card. Seventy-five Javonte is a 6th-grade student with students traveled to the local Borders special education needs who has Bookstore where they toured the store, struggled academically during his bought new books, and participated in elementary school journey. He an “Author’s Circle,” where they had the experienced a transformation when opportunity to share key points about invited and encouraged to participate their stories and publicly dedicate their in the Young Authors Conference. With books—a thrilling experience for even the guidance and support of his family the youngest of these authors. and his special education teacher, Ms. Glasper, Javonte wrote “My Football Dr. Thresa Nelson, the CEO of Civitas Seasons” and was named one of three Schools, accompanied the students class finalists. As a result of this positive on the field trip to Borders Books. “The experience, Javonte has a newfound Young Authors Conference was CICS passion for reading and writing. His Wrightwood’s first school-wide initiative, turnaround did not end with the Young and it proved to be a tremendous Authors Conference. He experienced success,” she says. “Committee significant gains of approximately 20 members and teachers believed that points in the NWEA–MAPS assessment the children, with overwhelming support between fall and winter. from their parents, more than exceeded our expectations.”

The purpose of the conference is a celebration of the written work of children in kindergarten through eighth grade. The goal is to support classroom teachers in their efforts to encourage and improve students’ abilities in writing, reading, listening, and sharing, and to recognize the accomplishments of young authors.

Students had the choice of writing an informational, narrative, or poetry-style short story to be judged in five literary areas: focus, support/elaboration, organization, conventions, and presentation. CICS Wrightwood had more than 650 entries in the competition. “We believe in the Young Authors Conference because it helps to foster a love for writing and reading at a very young




The Writer Within


Budding Authors From the group of 75 classroom winners, six (two from each of the primary, intermediate, and junior academy grades) were chosen to represent Chicago International Wrightwood in the city-wide competition:


“Becoming Me” by Lauryn Smith When the teacher gave the assignment, I wanted to scream, “I WANT TO BE A SINGER, I WANT TO BE A SINGER!!!!!!” She gave the directions and then we moved on to the next thing that we had to do. Well, they moved on...I sat and thought about my future.


“The Missing Turtle” by Sydney Dukes A mean turtle named Mr. Gene was standing by and watching all of the turtles on the ride. Mr. Gene was a turtlenapper. He likes to turtlenap turtles and make them serve him. He would make them rub his feet, cook his food, iron his clothes, and clean his cave.

Junior Academy

“Pause, Fast-Forward, Rewind” by Keven Stonewall The next day at Zack’s baseball game he decided to bring the remote control. He kept putting things on pause like when the opponents’ best pitcher threw 100 mph fastballs. He would press pause and line up the ball to his bat. Then he would press play. He hit a homerun that caused his team to win the championship.

“L ily, the Pink Zebra” by Devion Stevens Years past by, and Lily indeed, grew up to be a very special Zebra. Over the years, she has brought many people to the zoo. She also has taught that everyone have a special something about them. And thank goodness we do, or the world would be a boring place with every animal and every person looking the SAME.

“What My Family Means To Me” by Jazmine Jordan Families doesn’t have to be just mom, dad, brother, sister, aunts, uncles and cousins. Families can also be those people who do not live or who were not born in your family...My immediate family is small but the love we have for each stretches farther then my imagination can take me.

“Santa’s Memory” by Devonta Dickey “Here’s your robe as well,” Jingle said afterward. “Thank you, Jungle,” Santa repeated. “Sorry, but my name is Jingle,” Jingle also repeated. “It’s J-I-N-G-L-E,” Jingle spelled slowly. “I am sorry. My mistake,” Santa said sadly. “Let’s go and check on the other elves. They said that they had a big surprise for me...”




Finding The Words  

CICS students participate in a writing competition.

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