Author’s In Schools: a Day At Merrimac SHS
by Karen Knight-Mudie
Friday, June 13, 2014 was a day to remember!
For a teacher, plans are necessary, so I contacted Kylie Wilson, Head of English at Merrimac SHS to organize a date to visit the school before our “Authors In Schools” event. Thus my first meeting with Kylie on the prior Friday was a wonderful introduction to what we could expect – hospitality, enthusiastic students, excellent organization by staff and good facilities.
My second meeting on the Monday was with Charmaine Clancy to chat over coffee and discuss requirements for the day. Unfortunately, Tasman Andersen had to work (albeit a public holiday) but we did communicate via email. Thus, we all had a pretty good idea of what was what, and where venues were located.
Our meeting at the school on Friday, June 13, was in the staff room where we met the Principal, Mr Chris Tobin, were introduced to members of staff, and invited to partake in a fabulous morning tea. Our welcome could not have been more warm and friendly.
Then came the job of allocating students from Years 8, 9 and 10 into two groups – one to go to the Library room with Charmaine, the other to stay with Tasman in the Hospitality Centre. Again, efficiency was necessary and Kylie’s skill was evident as she quickly sorted the kids. I opted to join Charmaine and help in the Library with her group as Tasman had her mum to assist with hers.
Quickly the time passed as students experimented with writing an on-going story based on word clues. Charmaine had a list of twelve secret, unconnected words that one by one flashed onto the screen at regular intervals and so students didn’t have much time to ponder, chew pens, gaze at the wall or take a furtive glance at a neighbour. No time for writer’s block! Finally, the last word, a maverick from the garden patch, popped onto the screen. No student faltered as “pumpkin” slotted into his or her story and the end sentence was written. Smiles fluttered around the room.
Students were invited to share their work and it was delightful to listen to a couple of the short stories that, in those ten or so minutes, demonstrated different stirring of words using the same ingredients.
But, that was only the beginning.
Next on the agenda of imaginative association, was the ‘lucky dip’ from a bag of objects ranging from doll tiaras to computer attachments that were to spark a story. For some students this was a little more demanding. Objects were fondled, turned over, held on high, and scrutinized in hopes for inspiration. And inspiration did come – bizarre, hilarious, and even everyday as youthful imaginations conjured up stories.
I can only say that the inventive capacity of young folk can never be underestimated. I believe that a programme, such as “Author’s In Schools”, is a mighty building block for Gold Coast Writers’ Association and I was proud to be included as a link between professionals and potential. The buzz at lunch afterwards was an exemplar of good connection. Connection between students from different year levels; between schools and Gold Coast Writers’ Association and between authors and fledgling writers.
My thanks go to our Vice President, Gary Ivory for inviting me to join the programme and congratulations to Kylie, Charmaine and Tasman for a most memorable day.
And thank you Kylie for the photos – can’t wait for next year!