[by Molly Simas]

On May 12, we wrapped up our spring WITS residencies at Roosevelt High School with a lively reading at Cathedral Coffee in St. John’s. Two walls of windows let in plenty of light from the sunny afternoon, and students waiting to read kept an eye through the glass for the arrival of familiar faces.

Emcee (and WITS Program Specialist) Joanna Rose got the reading started. After a brief explanation about Literary Arts and its programs, including how WITS supports the development of young writers in public high schools she promptly turned the mic over to the student readers.

Nine Roosevelt students shared work they had produced in class with the WITS writers. Student work varied widely in form and content. The audience, approximately 30 people, was warm and appreciative, meeting each student contribution with rousing applause. One student even translated, in real time, her written Spanish into spoken English to share a short story she had written.

WITS writers who conducted residencies at Roosevelt this spring were Emiko Jean, who writes for young adults, and Lin Lucas, a multi-disciplinary artist whose work includes performance and graphic mediums alongside literary ones. Both Jean and Lucas shared their work– a chapter from an upcoming book and a short graphic story, respectively.

Roosevelt teachers Deanna Delgado and Shawn Swanson also shared work of their own. Delgado shared a comic she drew and wrote while working with Lucas. Swanson read a moving poem about how to be a teacher.

All in all, it was an inspiring, fun reading that truly showcased the depth and breath of the writing students produced during the WITS residencies.

Special thanks to Cathedral Coffee for being a gracious and accommodating host. Thank you Roosevelt teachers Deanna Delgado, Shawn Swanson, Tory Rodgers and Claire Roix, all of whom welcomed WITS writers into their classrooms this semester. Thank you also to Roosevelt librarian Betsy Tighe, who serves as the school’s WITS liaison. In addition to the help she provides in setting up the residencies, Tighe coordinates RHS student participation in Everybody Reads, Students to the Schnitz, author visits, and Verselandia!

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WITS Reading for Roosevelt High School