A Tuesday ice cream party not only marked the beginning of summer vacation. It also was a celebration for the unveiling of Greenbrier Middle School's third annual student-written-and-published literary magazine.
"We have realized we are not just average middle-schoolers. We are published authors," said Matt Keskula, 14.
The party celebrated the unveiling of TSI (Teen Scene Investigation) Literary Magazine. The combined classes of eighth-grade creative writing teacher Leslie Wright and gifted teacher Becky Holley put the magazine together for the third year as a hands-on way to teach their students about feature writing.
"We just wanted to reach and teach our students in a different way," said Wright of the magazine based on Foxfire magazine. The past two editions of the magazine focused on teen interests in Columbia County.
The latest edition allowed students to write profile stories about Columbia County personalities.
"Last year, we had subjects. We had places," Wright said. "But this year, we had people and that made all the difference."
The students were charged with every aspect of the magazine's publication from doing research, setting up and conducting interviews and taking their own photos. The finished product involved numerous copy edits and used computer software to lay out stories in preparation for printing.
Forrest Balk, 14, wrote "Ralph Barbee: Catfish King." Barbee is a professional fisherman and fishing guide. Balk said that despite being nervous about asking the first question, the interview process turned out to be the easiest part.
"I was really nervous to do the interview," Forrest said. "... But after the first couple of questions, the questions started turning into conversation and it is easier to pick up information."
Balk, who said he enjoyed the layout process the most, said his teachers put a new twist on learning feature writing, which wouldn't have been nearly as fun to learn through books, tests and papers.
Former state Sen. Jake Pollard attended the party as the subject of student Chris Morgan's story - "Jake Pollard: A Man of Service." Pollard said he was impressed with the magazine as a whole and the story written by the young man who wants to follow in Pollard's political footsteps.
"He did a great write-up. It was really good," Pollard said. "He asked some interesting and what I thought were some real adult questions about politics."
Alex Brandon, 14, said it was amazing to see all of their work put together in such a professional product. She admitted the process to create "Ann Taylor: A Driven Woman," was nerve-wracking.
"She's such a known role model for women, so I was nervous," Alex said. "I wanted to do her justice in my article."
Wright said many of the students ventured far out of their comfort zone during the process.
"It is just a pleasure for me to see them develop and hone their skills, not only in writing, but communication and collaboration and time management, decision-making, self-discipline and responsibility," Wright said.
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