High school students writing children's book about college

Date released: 01/15/03

KYLE Harry Potter goes to college? That may be the result when a team of high school writers publishes a children’s book on the importance of higher education.

Kids writing for kids about college – it’s all part of the state’s College for Texans higher education initiative, incorporated with a writing program for talented youth overseen by Southwest Texas State University.

High school students from the Academy@Hays participating in the Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center’s Young Writers program will write the book, telling a story about the anxieties, expectations and possibilities of going to college for an audience of 8-10-year-olds in Texas schools. The students’ efforts will be under the guidance of MFA graduate students Michelle Detorie and Alexandra Yavorsky.

“The book will be a major feature of the College for Texans campaign to get young Texans into college,” explained Tom Grimes, director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program as SWT, who oversees the KAP Young Writers program. The goal of the College for Texans campaign is to enroll an additional 500,000 students in Texas colleges and universities by 2015. “We’re positioned to take the lead on this effort.

“The students are earning class credit for their work this semester and next, and we’re also working to get them college credit for this project,” he said. “These kids writing about college will visit Southwest Texas and sit in on classes, visit the rec center, bookstore, dorms, etc. They’ll learn and write about the college experience.”

Profits earned from the book will go towards creating college scholarships for the young authors, as well as supporting further projects at the Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center.

When the students are finished with the writing, the book will be turned over to a professional artist to be fully illustrated. Plans are also in the works to publish a Spanish-language version of the book to targeting that rapidly-growing segment of the Texas population. While negotiations with publishers are ongoing, the goal is to have the book completed in time for a launch at the Texas Book Festival in November 2004.

“We’re looking at this as a pilot program,” Grimes said. “Our goal is a whole series of books.”

The Katherine Anne Porter House and the Academy@Hays are located in Kyle, approximately 10 miles north of San Marcos in Interstate 35.

Tom Grimes can be contacted at (512) 245-7609