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Draper Journal

Summit Academy’s literacy week engages students in reading, writing

Feb 22, 2022 08:19PM ● By Julie Slama

Summit Academy students were able to ask “Oracle” book series author C.W. Trisef questions during his virtual visit to kick off the school’s literacy week. (Screenshot)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

“Writing can feel like it’s harder, like it’s a daunting task to write a book, but as you practice and get better at it, you’ll figure that it’s pretty easy and that it just takes a lot of experience.”

Those words from “Oracle” book series author C.W. Trisef answered a Summit Academy student’s question during his virtual visit, which kicked off the charter school’s recent literacy week.

Trisef shared with students his steps in writing the seven-book series: brainstorming, writing, editing.

“I was writing for fun, designing this book, and I realized, ‘man, this could be a lot more than just one,’” he said, then proceeded to make an outline which detailed the seven books he finished last year. “I’ve always loved mysteries. When I got older, I thought I need to write a book that explains why they exist because nobody really knows why the Bermuda Triangle exists. So, I created a fictional story to explain why they exist. The whole point of the series, at least when I started, was so I can create my own reason why they exist.”

Trisef shared with students that while he hasn’t been to all the mysterious places in his books, although he’d love to, he has been to some such as Bimini Road, Stonehenge and the Bermuda Triangle.

“I’ve tried to go to as many as possible because I actually can describe it and write about it better. If I’ve been there, I can see it, I can smell it, I can touch it,” he said, adding that those places’ descriptions, such as seeing the Northern Lights, then come alive for the readers.

Trisef also gave aspiring writers advice: “Write about what you love, write about what you’re passionate about, write about what you care about and then it will be great no matter who loves it or not—and you’ll be proud of it.”

During the week, students could check out Trisef’s series, or any book, while reading independently or at school to help amass minutes toward the school goal of logging 50,000 minutes of reading that week.

Elementary students could participate in a reading bingo where they could make a fort to read in, read wearing a hat, read the subtitles on the TV, or read to a real or stuffed animal as one of several activities to complete a line or black-out to turn in for prizes. They also could keep a log of minutes read to submit toward the goal.

Junior high students and faculty participated in a “drop everything read” where at random times during each weekday, they read for 10 minutes and could submit their times toward the school goal and prizes.

All students, too, could participate in the school’s annual literacy week contest to the theme of “A Hero’s Journey.”

“We asked the students to write how are you the hero in your story because we feel everybody is being a hero right now and kids don’t really think they are,” Summit Academy literacy specialist Loree Romriell said. “We want kids to look into their lives to say, ‘Yeah, we’re heroes too. We’re coming to school every day’ or ‘We’re wearing our masks’ or whatever makes them feel like they’re a hero in their own journey.”

Romriell was impressed by some of the essays she read; saying they ranged from helping take care of a grandparent or siblings to attending school and setting goals to help in her future.

The top essay writers recently were announced. Elementary winners were Grace Sealy, first place; Hadley Aoki, second place; and Beckham Hansen, third place. Junior high winners were Haven McCleery, first place; Campbell Garner, second place; and Eli Grow, third place.

Romriell said that she hopes literacy week helps students develop a lifelong passion for reading.

“Students, especially as they get to fourth grade and then as they go from seventh to eighth, there is this point where they just stop reading. They read when they have to for school, but they don’t really read for enjoyment,” she said. “We’re trying to encourage kids to pick up something new to read. There are so many other things that pull them away from reading, so many activities as kids are scheduled a lot, and everyone has their phone in their hand. It’s hard to keep kids engaged in reading because reading a book may not seem as engaging as turning on the TV or pulling up something on your iPad or your phone. So, to give them a goal to set aside some time to read, even if it’s a magazine or a cookbook, just to help them become lifelong readers. That’s what we really want as teachers.”