On Tuesday November 18th Literary Arts held its annual WITS fundraiser luncheon, hosted by Blue Hour. Members of the Literary Arts staff and Board of Directors gathered with almost 200 friends, writers, teachers and other members of the community to support WITS.

We are thrilled to share that the event was a huge success, raising more than $39, 750 for the program. As many are already aware, the WITS program costs more than $200,000 a year to fully fund. We ask each participating school to contribute roughly ten percent of the cost for the program at that school; however, schools are served regardless of their ability to pay. Literary Arts is charged with raising the remaining funds.

Beyond being a financial success, the luncheon was particularly delightful thanks to our wonderful student readers: Rose Hogeweide, Jin Mei McMahon, Orby Fleury and Benjamin Wakefield-Smay. Rose shared some of her fondest memories of working with writer Carmen Bernier-Grand at Roosevelt High School, offering an example of the lasting impact that working with a writer in residence can have on a budding writer. Benjamin and Jin Mei both read from non-fiction pieces they produced during their residencies at Madison and Cleveland High Schools. Orby, a graduate of Jefferson High School, made everyone smile by reading his poem “Make Me Shine in the Lonely Place”.

Shay James, principal at Franklin High School, spoke about the positive effects WITS has on students in the Franklin community.  Gary Stein, managing editor at the Oregonian, shared his thoughts about this year’s anthology, describing the many “little moments that tug at your heart, or shock you, or surprise you.” Finally, WITS writer Karen Karbo, author of the forthcoming book How Georgia Became O’Keefe, spoke about some of her most memorable successes and challenges working with high school students, some of whom she still hears from, years later.

Thank you to everyone who contributed and who came together to celebrate Writers in the Schools!