Methow Valley Tenth Graders Write Their Journeys

Winter 2015

by Ashley Lodato, Arts Education Director

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Tenth graders in Kelly Grayum’s Liberty Bell High School English classes took a journey this past winter: a writing journey. The assignment was to narrate a personal journey, either external or internal.

It is a Camino tradition to carry a rock with you the entire way until this point. Once you arrive at the Cruz de Ferro, it is the custom to leave the rock in the pile. The idea is that once you leave this extra weight behind, you can finish the Camino knowing that your burden has been lifted. Depending on the person, this can be interpreted in a literal or spiritual sense.

~ Taya Delong

Taya Delong

The unit began with students reading short stories and novels that centered around the idea of a journey.  They then evaluated the stories for elements that make them powerful narratives.

We turn another corner and catch a glimpse of the next section. The gradual terrain transforms into a curvy, hilly mess. “Oh no,” we groan. To make matters worse…several small children zoom right by us, leaving us dead last. From then on everything falls completely apart.

~ Danielle Mott

Next, students began writing their own stories, basing them on journeys that were personally meaningful. Methow Arts’ teaching artist Shannon Huffman Polson came into the class to work with students, sharing her strategies for shaping narratives structures and general writing techniques.

After I had exited the plane, I saw myself in a new light. I was not a shameless survivor. I was a person who would risk anything to keep from getting rosy-cheeked.

~ Sebastian Hogness

Once the narratives were written and revised, Grayum evaluated them according to criteria such as character development, storyline, word choice, emotional connection, relevance, and conventions.

 It didn’t look like earth, and yet it looked like the most earthly thing I had ever seen. People get used to beauty, and people get used to the extraordinary, but this was beyond that. I could never get used to something like this.

~ Corinne Dietz


Narratives receiving top scores in all areas are shared below.

Jennifer Colvin: A Colvin Family Road Trip

Taya Delong: Astorga to Acebo

Corinne Dietz: A Day with the Anasazi

Nate Hirsch: Sliding on Rubber

Sebastian Hogness: No Shameless Survivor

Danielle Mott: Fire and Ice

Exie Romero: Inside these Walls

Reed Stanbery: Getting the Finger

The best feelings were the ones that started in your heart.  For example the feeling of excitement as we’d run up the walkway to Nana and Grandpa’s house on our first day out of school. Or the daring feeling of gliding on their slick wooden floor in the kitchen, with your socks on. Then the feeling of a cool, or  summer warm, breeze swirling around you, because Nana couldn’t stand a house without open windows. 

 ~ Exie Romero

This residency was brought to students by Methow Arts Alliance through its Okanogan Region Arts Education Partnership.  The partnership serves more than 5,200 students and 370 teachers across Okanogan County with arts programs in classrooms in the Omak, Okanogan, Brewster, Bridgeport, Pateros, and Methow School Districts, and in the Paschal Sherman Indian School. Residency sponsors in the Methow Valley include the the Public School Funding AllianceArtsWA, the Methow Valley School District, and the Methow Valley Fund of the Community Foundation of North Central Washington.


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