HTR Media

TWO RIVERS, Wis. (AP) _ Groups of young writers from area schools returned to the forest last month to find their inspiration.

The sixth- through eighth-graders ventured to the Rahr Memorial School Forest April 30 to take part in writing workshops and let their imaginations run wild, HTR Media ( ) reported.

“I always have ideas that come to mind,” Kiel sixth-grader Maggie Wedge said. “Writing is a way to express yourself. Even though the stories aren’t true, it is fun to put all your energy into writing a fun story.”

The kids _ students from Manitowoc, Two Rivers, Denmark, Kiel, Plymouth and Mishicot _ are featured in this year’s Young Authors Anthology, a collaborative, published anthology of student works.

Young authors chosen to be featured in the annual book are invited to a day-long writer’s retreat at the school forest.

“It really is my favorite day of the year,” Jody Ackley, the program’s coordinator, said. “I get a chance to bring our young writers and artists together with adults who love to write and do art.”

Each participating school district is responsible for determining selection criteria for the YAA. In the Manitowoc Public School District, students submit entries to a writing contest _ and 100 to 200 submissions are received annually. A panel of three judges selects the top pieces to publish on the MPSD pages of the anthology.

“Oftentimes, I find that the students I bring from Manitowoc are not the writers I know from class because they are closet writers and don’t share how good they are,” Ackley said.

This year’s writing workshops at the retreat included topics on poetry, nature journaling, fantasy writing, printmaking, food writing, public speaking and a “whodunit?” exercise.

Mishicot sixth-grader Abby Garceau, whose biography on Jackie Robinson is featured in the anthology, said she enjoyed the public speaking workshop.

“I’m not a very good public speaker and get really nervous,” she said. “I thought it would be good to learn for when I present projects.”

Wedge, whose short story of a girl with a pet wolf is featured in the anthology, took the workshop on nature journaling.

“I really like nature,” Wedge said. “I like taking walks through the woods.”

Students in the nature journaling workshop crafted their own small notebooks and set out into the woods to find inspiration.

“We wrote about whatever we saw,” Wedge said.

The YAA began 20 years ago to celebrate youth writing, with the first edition published in 1995-1996. Each year, new student pieces are selected and compiled into a book, which is distributed to the schools within each participating district.

“It was cool to get it published, and we can see everybody’s work here,” Mishicot sixth-grader Maddie Willems said. “I think it was an accomplishment, because not everybody has the ability to write really well.”