Young Writers Converge for Literary Festival

Caroline Baumker, News Editor

Caroline Baumker
Senior Janessa Salcedo is led away from senior Kristen Sedlacek by an officer at the crash site.

On April 18 this year’s Literary Festival kicked off at North in the auditorium with keynote speaker, Barbara Mahany, a published author and a previous reporter for “The Chicago Tribune.” 

“Lit Fest is a conference for young writers, who not only have the opportunity to have their work with professionals in the industry, but also the chance to submit their own pieces for feedback,” English teacher Krystina Leyva said. “Only students who have submitted a piece qualify to attend the Lit. Festival, and each school is limited to a maximum of 50 participants.”

 At the festival there was different awards for each category in which students competed against other students in the Southwest Prairie Conference. The categories consist of descriptive sketch, personal essay, critical essay, poetry, dramatic scene, personal narrative and short story.

“Students can submit up to three entries,” Leyva said.

All grade levels are encouraged to submit work to the festival, and teachers promote the categories during the school year.

“In each category, the judge has a rubric which will then be used to score winners for: Critic’s Choice, First Place, Second Place, Third Place and Honorable Mention,” Leyva said.  “The number of winners from each category is up to the judge, but there are usually two winners in every category, except Honorable Mention, where there is not a limit.”

This year the festival is getting new judges and workshop leaders.

 “We are also looking forward to introducing students to Parker Gadbois, longtime English and now Chinese teacher who also works as a freelance translator for Yahoo! Taiwan,” Fireman said.

Assistant Principal Darnell Weathersby was in attendance working the “The art of journaling!” workshop along with cinema studies and English teacher from a participating school James Ross, founder and President of Grant Staff Tammy Leonard and author and editor K.V. Peck.

One of the participants, freshman Alexsia Corigan, was “excited to meet authors who can help with [her] writing.” Corigan was involved in personal narrative and poetry, and one of her pieces won an award.

“This year, students will also have the opportunity to attend three workshops, rather than just two, giving them the opportunity to explore different avenues of creativity,” Fireman said.

Another participant, senior Faith Manuel, liked learning about all the different types of workshops offered and “how it brought all the schools together.”

The workshops, while each one being unique, had a presenter who was in charge of having students partake in multiple activities and tasks to help with creativity and give students a fresh perspective about their work.

The Literary Festival can be traced back thirty years and currently consists of around 300 students.  Organizing the festival did not come without challenges.

“Mrs. Leyva and I are…new to the festival, so we had to spend some time researching past events before we could put our own…spin on the conference,” Fireman said.

Caroline Baumker
Keynote Speaker Barbara Mahany Inspires student writers