Thurston hosts first annual Writers Conference

This year was the first Writers Who Read Conference at Thurston Middle School. Reggie Gibson is a spoken-word poet. Photos by Katrina Margolis

By Katrina Margolis
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Writing is one of those elusive careers—something that every learns and does in school, and is part of most people’s jobs, but can seem impossible to do professionally. This year, on Wednesday, May 17th, Thurston Middle School held their first annual Writers Conference, “Writers Who Read.” In addition to inspiring students to read, it also presented an opportunity for the students to meet firsthand professional writers to help better understand that they are also regular people just like them. The conference featured 12 different writers in all different types of fields who gave workshops to groups of 15 to 30 students.

Students go to choose from 12 different professional writers, such as ESPN’s Mike Reiss. Photos by Katrina Margolis

Students go to choose from 12 different professional writers, such as ESPN’s Mike Reiss. Photos by Katrina Margolis

“As a middle school, we have been struggling to find ways to get kids excited about reading,” Joe Lawlor, a teacher at Thurston, said. “The conference is called ‘Writers Who Read,’ and it’s really about the intersection point between what professional writers read and how that got them writing.” Writers included ESPN’s Mike Reiss and “Boston Strong” co-author Dave Wedge. In addition to these writers, there were a variety of poets and even Westwood graduates who work as fashion bloggers. “Students got to pick the two writers they wanted to see the most, and they’ve just ben going to mini-workshops throughout the morning,” Lawlor added.

“Currently, many of our students write simply to please their English teachers or earn good grades. Listening to professionals discuss the ins-and-outs of their trade will provide compelling evidence that robust reading and writing skills have real value beyond the classroom,” Lawlor explained.

While the eighth grade has a field trip to Washington D.C., and the sixth grade has a variety of local field trips, the seventh grade had yet to find its “thing,” so to speak. Wanting to keep the conferences small, the school decided to limit the conference to the seventh grade.

Could this be the grade seven’s elusive “thing”?

“Depending on feedback, I guess you could call this the ‘first annual!’” Lawlor said.

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