The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 23, 2013

Students attend annual KSUA English Festival

Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — Isabella Rossi leaned forward and listened hard — this was information she needed to know.

Rossi, 14, is a Geneva Middle School student with her eye on journalism as a career and an interest in local current events.

“I am going to write a news story someday,” she said.

Students from Lakeside Junior High School and Geneva Middle School braved the snowy Friday morning to attend Kent State-Ashtabula’s English Festival. The event, held at the university campus, is for seventh- and eighth-grade students who read a book list of six novels, KSUA English Festival coordinator and Kent English teacher Beth Devore said.

This year 185 students registered for the day of literary discussion, but Pymatuning Valley middle schoolers couldn’t come because school was canceled for snow on Friday.

“It has been difficult,” Devore said, “because of budget issues, a lot of districts don’t provide transportation for the students, so they have to find a ride. Fewer kids are able to come to the festival because of that.”

Geneva students, who were bused to the event, came out in force, while only a handful of Lakeside students were able to attend.

The students read six books in the English Festival arsenal, but the day wasn’t just for bookworms, Devore said.

The students also took classes in drama, journalism, illustration, music, language arts, poetry and storytelling.

“We try to keep the class list and the book list diverse, so there is something to interest everyone,” she said.

Devore said she is already planning for next year’s festival.

“I am really hoping to include more schools next year,” she said.

Gabbi Kirk, 13, of Geneva, said her favorite book of the day was the science fiction fantasy “Maximum Ride” by James Patterson.

“You can relate to it, but you know the story isn’t real at the same time,” she said.

Isabell Quinata, 13, also from Geneva, said she likes fiction, but enjoyed the journalism class the most.

“I learned that a dateline has nothing to do with the date,” she said. “It’s about the place where the story happened.”

Jessica Harrison, 13, said she enjoyed Carl Deuker’s novel “Gym Candy.”

“It was interesting because it dealt with a real situation, a real situation that would happen to teens,” she said.

Brock Reese, 12, of Geneva Middle School, said he enjoyed “Hoot” by Carl Hiaasen and hopes to write his own book someday.

Patrick Howard, 12, of Geneva Middle School, said he likes to take the day off from school to focus on one subject in a lot of different ways.

“It’s a lot of fun to skip school for a day and come here to discuss these books,” he said. “I just wish other schools would participate more, because it would be great to get other points of view on the books.”

Yakira Santana, 12, participated in the journalism class, the writing exercise and a book discussion.

“I like being able to go from one interesting class to another interesting class,” she said. “I got to choose which classes I wanted to take, so everything was interesting to me.”

Alyssa Murphy, 13, said her sister’s college class in journalism got her interested in reporting the news.

“I think it’s really cool to write the facts into a story,” she said. “It’s a neat perspective and you have a built-in audience of people for your stories.”