For the past decade, Labor Day weekend has been one of our favorite times of year at the Wren’s Nest. We always had a booth at the Decatur Book Festival and threw a publication party to celebrate the book of stories written by our Scribes, the middle school students in our writing program at KIPP Strive Academy. (That’s 2019’s party in the photos.)
We can’t do either this year. Because of the pandemic, the 2020 book festival went virtual and virtually all its in-person events were canceled — including our booth and our book party for the students and their families.
As many of you know, we’ve been publishing the stories and parts of stories created by our Scribes on the Wren’s Nest website in our “Summer of Scribes.” The last of five installments will be posted this Friday.
We had to do it this way — no print volume, online only — because the pandemic short-circuited our time with the students. The Atlanta public schools went online in March, so the work of our budding writers and the communications professionals we pair with them as mentors had to go online as well. We had mixed success at best.
The last installment of Scribes stories this week is a sort of kibbles-and-bits anthology. It consists of six story fragments, none longer than 500 words. Why so many incomplete stories? Because middle school students, like writers everywhere (including me!), have a tendency to push their deadlines. When classes at KIPP Strive Academy went online in March, we had completed only seven of our 12 weeks together. As a three-time mentor, I know that most of the writing happens in those final weeks.
So please join us in congratulating these young people — our Scribes class of 2020 — for becoming published authors, however strange the path has been. Their names:
Ajahla Jefferson, Akiva Bryant, Alexandria Tyrus, Amaya Conner, Amirah Jabbie, Ashe Davis, Brooke Fuller, Delaney Gordon, Faith Lawrence, Grayson Trawick, Hilton McGill, Kaydance Brown, Layla Dixon, Malia Dewberry (on the left in the photo), Mustafa Kilinc, Nikai Brown, Nola Hemphill (on the right in the photo), Ry’En Dillard, Ryan Henderson, Taylor Haney, Travis Lawrence, Tulah Jefferson, Ty-Rionna Hightower.
Thank you to our 15 mentors. And special thanks to our coordinating teacher at KIPP, Celeste Clark.
We didn’t get to get have our party this year — the customary sheet cake and punch — and listen to students read from their work. We did what we could. Here’s hoping things have returned to normal by next Labor Day.