Aspiring young writers from St Monica’s College, Cairns are reaching for the stars – and they haven’t let a global pandemic get in their way.
What do most writers want to achieve? To have their book written, edited, and published. Yes! So, if we want to encourage young high capacity writers to be involved in a fun, non-assessable writing project, why not get them to write a story and publish it in a collection of stories. What if we could get the parents interested in this as well – maybe they could be involved and it could also be a parent engagement project.
These were just some of the ideas that Larissa Nolan, Assistant Principal – Curriculum, and Edna Galvin, Principal, discussed when creating the St Monica’s Terrific Author and Readers (STARS) project. When they realised that the Year 7 NAPLAN data indicated that they had many students in the college who were excellent at writing, they wanted to offer these students a challenge. They also knew that encouragement in that area could pay big dividends for these young students in all their subjects.
“The research had suggested that if members of the Leadership Team, including the principal, were involved in the project, the students and parents would rate it as being a significant educational activity the students could be involved in during their schooling,” explains Larissa.
A meeting was called for all interested parties and once the idea was explained, a short writing workshop was held and the STARS was launched. Several meetings, writing sessions, editing activities and discussions followed. Once the stories were completed, the writers met with the young artists to produce the illustrations for their stories. The cover was designed, the stories were edited, and the draft taken to the printers for publishing. ‘Star Dust’ was produced and everyone involved was so excited.
A book launch was held for the students in the Dungarvan Library at the college where they introduced their book, held a book signing and sold their collection. This was followed by a cake cutting ceremony and a supper shared with parents and friends.
“The following year, we worked with a new group of high capacity authors and produced the next collection of writing – ‘Starlight’. This time it was a completely different design brief for the cover and illustrations than the first collection. The third collection ‘Starburst’ has just gone to press, slightly delayed by the COVID-19 virus,” tells Larissa.
The fourth STARS group has already been started, all by email, due also to the current restrictions of 2020. But undaunted, the students and parents are all underway for the next collection of St Monica’s Terrific Authors and Readers.
“All parents and students should know that having an interest and love of writing plus pushing that interest to a slightly higher level, can make their study in ALL their subjects much more successful. The college has seen the results and are committed to the outcomes of this project,” tells Larissa.
The first STARS’ group are now in Year 11 and the data indicates they are all still doing well across all their subjects – they are all still shining!
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