by Mel Wells
Gresham High School participated in a full slate of WITS youth programming during the 15-16 school year beginning with Jane Smiley’s author visit in October; Smiley visited with Crystal Hansen’s sophomores for a Q&A.
Later in October, Gresham students were featured writers at the WITS Fundraiser at Blue Hour Restaurant and at the WITS anthology reading at Wordstock. Nine Gresham students were published in the WITS anthology Off Center.
Semester-long creative writing residencies began in February. Creative nonfiction writer Apricot Irving worked with teacher Ed Sage’s American Literature classes, and poet Jamie Houghton-Shanahan worked with the English classes of teachers Alethea Mock and Crystal Hanson.
Thirty Gresham students attended the Everybody Reads lecture at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert hall featuring Cristina Henríquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans. Everybody Reads is a partnership between Literary Arts, the Multnomah County Library, and the Library Foundation.
In April, Gresham students attended and competed at the Verselandia! youth poetry slam.
Origin’s Coffee hosted an end of WITS residency reading for Gresham students in May; thirty-five students came to share their work with a large, appreciative audience.
We’d like to thank all the teachers at Gresham High who partnered with WITS this year, including teacher Tina Roberts who served as Gresham High’s WITS liaison, and Alethea Work, who organized the school poetry slam that produced the finalists for Verselandia!