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Youth Programs

Youth Programs Fall 2021-22 Recap


Youth Programs Returns to Classrooms and Schools

This fall, students, teachers, and Literary Arts’ Youth Programs returned to in-person classrooms for the first time since spring of 2020. Over the course of the fall semester, schools across districts went virtual for a few days or weeks at a time, and then returned again to in-person learning, students and teachers saw each other face-to-face for the first time since March of 2020, and everyone dealt with the ongoing uncertainty and disruption of the pandemic. Throughout it all, students continued reading, writing, and sharing their stories.

The 2021-22 school year has been full of highs and lows, but as Youth Programs enters the spring, we are excited to look back at what we’ve achieved so far this school year.

A hallway just before the bell

Portland Book Festival

The Portland Book Festival launched the publication of the 2020-21 Writers in the Schools anthology, Curiosity in Ones and Zeros, which featured work from students in all-virtual residencies at a dozen high schools. Fifteen students read their work at the anthology launch, entertaining and moving the audience of nearly 200 in the Park Blocks.

Gresham HS student Sol Ramos reads his piece “An Open Letter to Burger King” at the WITS anthology launch in November

Dozens of students participated in a science fiction workshop for high schoolers and a writing workshop for middle school students, both in-person and virtually.


Students to the Schnitz & Author Visits

Students to the Schnitz brought over 1,000 students to the concert hall and virtual events to see lectures by writers Daniel James Brown, Cathy Park Hong, and Brit Bennett.

Students from two Portland high schools, McDaniel and Grant, were featured on OPB’s Think Out Loud. They asked Brit Bennett questions about themes and craft in her most recent novel, The Vanishing Half, and told Cathy Park Hong how important her book Minor Feelings has been to them.

A student at Grant High School asks Brit Bennett a question while OPB’s Think Out Loud aired live
Students in the McDaniel High School library listening to Cathy Park Hong speak with OPB’s Dave Miller live on Think Out Loud

Writers in the Schools

This fall, the Writers in the Schools program served nearly 480 students at five public high schools. Thirteen writers taught in classrooms at Gresham High School, Parkrose High School, Benson Polytechnic High School, McDaniel High School, and Franklin High School. Students studied poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and storytelling, while creating zines and collages, revising short science fiction stories, and then shared their work both in person at final school readings and virtually through pre-recorded videos.

WITS writer Emilly Prado read from her essay collection Funeral For Flaca at the Parkrose High School final reading

Fifty-two students have already submitted to the 2021-22 WITS anthology, which will be published in November of 2022 and will launch with a public reading at the 2022 Portland Book Festival.

Students, writers, and teachers at the Franklin High School end of residency reading

Thank You

Thank you to all of our partner educators, including teachers, librarians, and administrators, for everything you’ve done to support students this year. Thank you to our amazing WITS writers for your incredible work. Thank you to the writers who shared their time with students in libraries, auditoriums, and the concert hall.

Find out more about Youth Programs.

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