Junior writers work on original stories to present at Tukey Theater Friday

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By Lucy McElroy

Primary and secondary school children, “junior writers,” have been writing stories that they will read in front of family and community members at the University of South Carolina Upstate.

The Spartanburg Junior Writing project will hold its Celebration of Writing in Tukey Theater Friday morning, after students attended two weeks of workshops to create original material.

“We have 41 students in grades three through 12, and they come from all over Spartanburg County, private and public schools,” Spartanburg Writing Project Director and USC Upstate professor, Tasha Thomas said. “We even have a student from Anderson this year.”

Students were placed in separate classrooms based on their grade levels. Chapman Elementary School teacher, Althea Peak was in charge of the youngest attendees. Sims Middle School teacher, Ruth Hill taught students in fourth through sixth grades and discussed the importance of literature. Kailey Beck of Whitlock Flexible Learning Center led the group of students in grades seven through 12.

“Books really matter because wonderful writing inspires wonderful writing,” Hill told her students as they offered their opinion of writing’s importance. Students named things like colors, hands, pencils, self-discipline, Archimedes, and crying as important parts of their writing.

Special guest Ashley Sfeir, a Masters of Fine Arts student at Converse College, taught a screenplay writing workshop Thursday. Students in Peak’s group anxiously waited to read their parts from a script.

When asked about their work, students in Beck’s class explained what inspires them to write.

“We get a list of words to create stories about for each day,” 12-year-old, Brayden said. She pointed to a list of 30 words with the header “June Prompt-a-Day.”

Thirteen-year-old Katherine enjoys writing about things that happen to her and penning love stories. Eleven-year-old Mylah’s favorite novel is “The Giver” and she writes sci-fi fantasy stories, while 16-year-old Miah enjoys writing romance stories based on one of her favorite games, “Episode.”

Most students said that the books they read inspire them, naming the “Harry Potter” and the “Warriors” series.

The junior writers seemed fully prepared to present their writing to the audience Friday, despite talk of stage fright.


Special thanks to SJWP Director, Tonya Beaty, for allowing me to speak with the junior writers.




Lucy McElroy is the Editor of The Carolinian. Email Lucy with story ideas, information, staff inquiries and advertising.