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Program gives young Hernando County authors a voice

SPRING HILL — Young writers — some animated, others calm — stood before a microphone Friday to read aloud to their parents and other visitors stories they had written.

Fifth-grade teacher Melissa Tomlinson coordinated the event, which included students from grades 1 through 5. She invited the teachers to each choose one student to participate. There were 20 selected children.

Tomlinson offered criteria to the teachers for their selections. She wanted them to pick children who deserved recognition and who would benefit from the boost they would get from the opportunity and the applause.

Besides the chance to read before an audience, the children received certificates and a bag of goodies. The goodies included a writer's notebook, a coupon for a free book from the media center, a pencil and a $3 off coupon for a haircut at Great Clips.

The stories covered such diverse subjects as a goblin king's castle, reasons to love nature, things to do on a rainy day, a turkey that jumped to life right off the Thanksgiving dinner table and special friends.

Fourth-grade teacher Mary Meyer, who had a student from Georgia Lundberg's inclusion class in her writing class, asked the children to imagine what might be in a magic bag on her desk. Ja'mia Owens, 11, decided it was a snake, while Alexis Verdi, 9, dreamed up a candy machine that disbursed about 9-million pieces of candy.

Ja'mia seemed to enjoy the project. "I like to write because I like to put all the details in my head down on paper and entertain the teachers with my writing," she said.

Alexis said she thinks writing is a good thing to learn. "I like it. I practice at home," she said.

Ja'mia's mother, Tiffany Owens, was pleased with the young authors' presentations. "I enjoyed it very much," she said. "I thought it was very good for them to be able to express themselves in different ways."

Alexis' mother, Jennifer Verdi, was also at the event. "I think it's great," she said. "It makes the kids want to learn more if they're rewarded. They put a lot of work into it. It boosts their self-confidence."

Paulette Lash Ritchie can be reached at

Fast facts

Authors' Tea

These are the students chosen for the Authors' Tea and their teachers.

First grade

Dante Young (Glenda Vasquez), Clayton Wolf (Vanessa Kent), Madelyn Walcott (Tennille Rivera), Jordan Perkins (Jillian Strat)

Second grade

Kori Carter ( Shannon Pease) and Alexander Pennozzo (Tara Wright)

Third grade

Gianna Benedetti (Michele Rittenberry), Jessica Unterweiser (Kim Jones) and Vincent D'Alessandro (Helen Shepard).

Fourth grade

Eness Gonzalez (Adrienne Brunner), Madison Santana (Melissa Tomlinson), Alexis Verdi (Mary Meyer), Alexus Cratty (Dee Cardenas), Cody Bruneau (David Smith), Patrick Brown (Deno Fiocca) and Ja'mia Owens (Georgia Lundberg).

Fifth grade

Brianna Cramer (Donna Urban), Clint Deem (Scott Urban), Nicholas Benedetti (Robert Strmensky) and Alyssa Short (Irene Dongen)

Program gives young Hernando County authors a voice 12/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 22, 2008 4:19pm]
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