The story behind iRead, iThink, iWrite!
Shanice Strong, Rodney Vaughn, Trachell Surin, Nyra Taylor, Alisha Charmant, Jarvis Jackson, Stefan Joseph, Kori Taylor, Allasia Albert, Candy Thrasher, Sasha Hopwood, Asayah Rodney, Denijah Bastian, Tierra Wright, Sierra Williams, Ayanna Storr, Breanna Tobias, Camille Shackleford.
By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
What was the emphasis behind the project, iRead, iThink, iWrite?
“It was to help incoming freshman establish a strong foundation in high school by obtaining good grades, developing good study habits, establishing a good GPA, and exploring their options for attending college and receiving scholarships,” says the creator high school teacher Glenda Moton.
It all began when the 9th grade students at Miami Norland Sr. High School read the novel We Beat the Street in their Freshman Experience Class in 2015.
“This novel was so powerful that the students decided to write about their own life experiences relating to hope, love, violence and change,” says Glenda Moton their teacher.
She continued, “Through their writing, they began to realize how much they had in common with the authors of We Beat Street: George W. Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, Sampson Davis, and Sharon M. Draper because of their success and failures, they too, had encountered.”
As I interacted with the students I was drawn into their world of love, violence, legacy and death as they willing opened their lives to me through their writings.
The more the young writers exposed me to, the more I could equated their experiences to a stanza in the song written by The Doors called, Riders on the Storm. The first stanza is:
Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out on loan
All I had to do was to change a few words like ‘rider’ to “writers”, ‘on’ to “into”, and ‘thrown’ into “torn” then I could fully began to pour myself in to the vessels they created in their own life experiences through the written word.
“Writers on the storm into this life we are born into this world we are torn; writers in a storm.”
I had the pleasure of being in the company of some young writers who truly are soldiers without a sword.
Their pens have become the syringes for injecting a serum of hope in to their veins which has allowed them to give life to a desolate situation.
They have found comfort in the ability to put their feelings on paper instead of picking up loaded guns or finding their lives dangling at the end of the rope.
These young writers in a storm are to be lifted up and to be encouraged to keep their heads lift high with the utmost esteem. For they are over-coming some situations that would bury most of us.
From life to death from love to hate from rejection to affection they have lived it and are willing to be open and share their hurt, their pain their accomplishments.
Just like the authors of We Beat the Street are doctors, these students are on a journey started as a friendship and now they can impact the world in a positive way.
According to Ms. Moton, because of this class project, many of the students expressed their desire in becoming better writers and perhaps future journalists in hopes of inspiring other young students to pursue their dreams despite the challenges they may face in life.
“Despite the challenges at times, the students rose to the occasion encouraging each other to not only write with their minds but with their heart stating their lives behind the scene”, Moton said.
Moton plans for iRead, iThink, iWrite are to expand this project to other organizations and schools.
Moton continued, “There are many students who are suffering in silence about issues they may be facing at home or school and are afraid to tell their story. One way they can tell their story is by writing about it, and sharing with others to bring hope and healing. Additionally, through the sales of the book, we hope to raise funds to provide scholarships and grants for students to attend college and/or a vocational school.”
Their lives are not Cinderella stories or pomp and circumstances they are actual self-realized real stories; they live the life of which they write about.
When asked how can others help to keep this program and the positive outcome it going, Moton stated, “if others were to adopt the iRead, iThink, iWrite model into their high school Freshman Experience curriculum, developing writing con-tests for scholarship purposes, and helping students to publish a book about their experiences in the form of short stories or poems and sharing them with others would be a great way to start.”
PLEASE SEE THE LIVE VIDEO OF THE STUDENTS AS THEY TELL THEIR STORIES AT: WWW.THEWESTSIDEGAZETTE.COM