More than 50 Greenbrier Middle School gifted eighth-grade writing pupils recently embarked on an annual project to make them published authors.
The combined classes of gifted teacher Becky Holley and eighth-grade writing teacher Leslie Wright unveiled the fourth annual TSI (Teen Scene Investigation) Literary Magazine on May 16.
This year's magazine, giving young writers journalism experience, focused on careers in the community.
"Do you remember what riding your bike for the first time was like?" asked Kara Hardin, who wrote, Bam! A Local Chef Gives Emeril Competition . "That was very similar to a group of teenagers trying to cycle into an interview. It started with the dreaded phone call."
Holley said having to call a stranger and set up an interview was the hardest part of the project for most pupils.
Rachel Martini, 14, was so nervous while trying to call Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker that she hung up when someone answered the phone.
"I got so nervous," said Rachel, who wrote This Is Just a Test: Local EMA Director Watches Over the Community . "It was a lot of fun, though."
The pupils were charged with every aspect of the magazine's publication, from doing research, setting up and conducting interviews and taking photos.
The finished project involved numerous copy edits and used computer software to lay out stories in preparation for printing.
Wright said the publication gives her pupils the opportunity to learn about creative writing, deadlines and computer design from professional journalists and photographers. The experience is one that can't be taught through traditional classroom teaching, she said.
And forcing pupils out of their comfort zone is a great way to learn, Holley said.
"Outside our comfort zone is where we truly grow," she said. "We feel they stretched and grew in a big way and some have even expressed a desire to pursue a career in journalism because of this project."
The magazine is on display in the Columbia County Library.
As Lauren Noto hunkered over her copy, she said that becoming a published author is not an opportunity most 13- or 14-year-olds get and it helped her realize what a writing career might be like.
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