Youth Programs

WITS 2020-21 End of Year Celebration Reading

by Keyry Hernandez

To mark the end of the 2020-2021 Writers in the Schools (WITS) program, numerous writers and teachers virtually celebrated their accomplishments by reading their personal pieces with eagerness and vulnerability. Writers and teachers who read their work at the June 17th celebration included Matt Smith, Meg E. Griffitts, Ed Edmo, Charles Sanderson, Alex Behr, Jennifer Perrine, CJ Wiggan, and Director of Youth Programs Emilly Prado. Literary pieces explored various topics ranging from the impact of outgrowing a nickname to observing the significance of an American family at Dairy Queen.

Along with their experience in writing, WITS writers help guide high school students down the path of self-expression through creative writing. Both WITS writers and classroom teachers partner to help ensure that students have the opportunity to see themselves not only as writers and readers, but as creative change-makers too.

The audience and readers at the WITS celebration unmuting for a round of applause

 Jules Ohman, WITS Program Specialist and host of the event, welcomed each writer with a warm introduction. “A fun fact about Alex is that her son gives her his hand-me-down skater t-shirts and has said, ‘But Mom…no one will believe you skate,” Jules said, when introducing WITS writer Alex Behr. Alex Behr passionately elaborated on how a workshop taught by poet Matthew Dickman inspired her second poem she classified as a poetic “list.”

Writer Ed Edmo reading his work

Poet Jennifer Perrine, whose fun fact was that they went on the show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” during their last semester of college, read their poem titled I Can Look At You From Inside As Well which they classified as both an acrostic and telestich poem. For those who could use a refresher on the definitions of these terms (I know I did) Jennifer defined an acrostic poem as “the first letter of each line if read vertically spells out a phrase”  and a telestich similarly as a poem where “the last letter of each line spells out a phrase.”

Alex Behr and Jennifer Perrine are only two of the many remarkable writers that presented at the WITS end of the year celebration. Gratitude and support carried the virtual event due to the lively zoom chat and side comments. To end with, special thanks to all of those who make the  WITS program possible for sharing their powerful pieces and for supporting high school students in the pursuit of self-expression.

Watch the full event here.


Keyry Hernandez is an Editorial and Administrative Assistant intern at Literary Arts. She is currently double majoring in Journalism and Cinema Studies at the University of Oregon. Her past experience in zine making and goal of one day writing for a magazine have inspired her to gain experience and be a part of the team for the summer.

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