Senior Administrative Secretary
Fax: (831) 466-5846
Educational Services Division
Popsicles and Ping-Pong Party Launches Young Writers Program
It was definitely a "cool" way to bring in the fall. The first annual Popsicles and Ping-Pong Tournament brought together teachers, administrators, and potential volunteers to launch a new program co-sponsored by Santa Cruz Writes and Santa Cruz County Office of Education.
The Young Writers Program will bring volunteers into countywide classrooms to work on teacher-initiated writing projects. The August 18 event gathered potential participants to play ping-pong, eat popsicles, and learn how to get involved. There were plenty of raffle prizes along with gift certificates donated by Bookshop Santa Cruz for ping-pong tournament winners. Penny Ice Creamery, Whole Foods and Safeway contributed popsicles for the event and New Leaf Community Market donated water and lemonade.
Those in attendance heard from Young Writers Program teacher participant Jody Lust. Jody will bring volunteers into her fifth grade Gault Elementary classroom for two projects during the course of the school year: personal narratives in the fall and poetry in the spring. She’s excited to implement the program.
"This is a dream come true," Jody said of the Young Writers Program. "All children, regardless of socio-economic status, deserve the chance to discover their voices and share their stories."
Also piloting the program this year are Mission Hill Middle School teacher Jessica Olamit who will use the opportunity to assist students in writing an essay on Culture and Immigration and Terra Barsanti of Pacific School in Davenport. Several other teachers have expressed interest in getting the program implemented in their classrooms.
"It’s a win-win-win situation," said Julia Chiapella, Director of the Young Writers Program. "Students get individualized attention for their writing, teachers get to implement writing projects they wouldn’t be able to otherwise, and volunteers get to contribute their skills in a meaningful way."
Teachers self-select to participate in the Young Writers Program, determining the student writing project, its length, and how often volunteers will assist in the classroom. Modeled after the in-classroom program of 826 Valencia in San Francisco, the Young Writers Program will seek to gather student writing into a publication of the teacher’s design: a book, newspaper, magazine, or chapbook. Publications will be of high quality and available to the public for purchase. Students will also read from their work at regularly scheduled events.
Program volunteers, or Writing Project Assistants, will be trained before going into the classroom. The first training, Basics for Writing Project Assistants, takes place Saturday, Sept. 15, 10 a.m. to noon, at the Tech Center at Santa Cruz County Office of Education, 400 Encinal. Teachers are welcome to attend. For more information or to sign up to volunteer go to the Santa Cruz Writes web site or call Julia Chiapella at 831-227-7690.
"Writing is essential to clarifying thinking. It helps us make sense of the world" said Julia. "The Young Writers Program has incredible potential to encourage and support student writing."