by Mel Wells
This year’s WITS end-of-residency student reading for Benson High School was, for the first time, held at the Benson “Tech Show,” an evening event showcasing the school’s various programs. Since it was also Benson’s 100 year anniversary, the entire campus was abuzz.
During the fall semester at Benson, students in Zandra Ah Choy-Aguson’s 2nd period English class worked with WITS writer Kathleen Lane. Students in Kristin Wallace Knight’s 2nd period English class worked with WITS writer Ramiza Koya and WITS writer apprentice Leslee Chan–a class that we visited and wrote a blog post about. And students in two Film & Literature classes, Dave Mylet’s 2nd period and Cesar Ramirez’s 3rd period, worked with screenwriter Monty Mickelson to write and produce their own five-minute films.
The first half of the reading featured students reading their prose and poems. Several of the prose pieces were excerpts from longer works, and tension in the excerpts was high; we hope these students submit their work to the anthology so we can know how the stories end! All of the students’ work was great, including a student who had memorized her poem and presented it like a slam.
During the second half of the reading, the auditorium turned into a movie theater. One student from each film, most of which were produced by groups, came to the stage to talk briefly about the film before the lights dimmed and the movie played. The audience laughed, gasped, and applauded for each short movie with names such as, “Plots, Problems and Pizza,” “Flipper,” and “I’m Afraid of Hamsters.”
We were thoroughly impressed by all the students’ hard work and appreciate them sharing their projects with their families, friends, and teachers. Also, thank you to all the teachers and WITS writers for making the Benson residencies so productive. The reading was a fun way to celebrate Benson’s 100th birthday!