On March 5th, 2018, CWP volunteers traveled to Morris Heights in the Bronx to assist the 5th grade class at P.S. 279 Captain Manuel Rivera, Jr. in prepping their original gothic stories for publication in an anthology. This year, the students have developed critical and creative thinking skills as they explored their personal and collective voices through theatre, music and creative writing activities. They created community poems and songs, as well as individual stories and movement pieces, drawing inspiration from their own diverse lives, cultures, families and communities.
The volunteers came from all over; some as part of CWP’s activist mom group, “The SuperMoms,” some from our CWP Board and Associate Board, and many from corporations like HBO, Time Warner, and Investor’s Bank. These professionals took time out of their busy work week to spend one-on-one time with our students, typing, editing, and cleaning up their short stories to be published.
“The kids were shy at first, but then they opened up. It was a rewarding experience.” – Sam, Investors Bank
The students spent the previous twelve weeks creating epic community poems and gothic mysteries with CWP Teaching Artists T. Scott Lilly and Katie Rainey.
The volunteers worked one-on-one with each student, rotating them every half hour. These anthology editing days are so helpful to our students because they get to spend time really thinking through and elaborating on their stories, which isn’t always possible in their normal forty-five minute, once a week class with CWP. This time also allows for additional revision. Students can spend time revising sensory details and story structure, elements of literature they had focused on in class.
“I would add this program to every school in our country!” – Brian, NYC Transit
“One boy had written two words, but said, ‘I have it all in my head.’ As I was typing his story, he exclaimed, ‘This is fun writing a story this way!” – Laurin, SuperMom
At the end of the day, these dedicated volunteers typed up a total of 150 student short stories. These stories have since been published in an anthology titled, “One Creepy Midnight: Tales of Gothic Mystery.”
“It was great helping the kids expand their creativity! I can see what a difference CWP makes!” – Sarah, professional writer
Here are a few sneak peeks of what’s inside:
“The Hunter” by D’Lila Sundae Jones Myrick
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Ja’erra and she was a hunter. A long time ago, she was hunting with her Daddy in a high mountain where he would unfortunately ended up dying. A lion showed up. He had a grey and white mane. He was about four feet tall, but he was bulky. Daddy died five minutes after seeing the lion. The lion roared and lunged forward, scratching Daddy’s face off. Ja’erra was on the hunt ahead of him, unaware of the lion. She could not hear the lion’s roar.
She called to her father, “Dad, are you there. Dad? Dad?”
She ran back to find him, but could not find him.
Meanwhile, Ja’erra’s Mom was home with the baby, Zoe’y. She was worried when the two went out to hunt. She went outside, but a muscular, large lioness was there too. The Mom was so scared, she had a heart attack, falling backward, squishing the baby on her back. The lioness dove in to get the baby.
Ja’erra, could not find her father so she went home. She could not find her parents. She was only 13-years-old. What was she going to do?
Alone for 30 days, she waited for her family to come back.
One day, her grandmother knocked on the door.
“Are you okay girl?” Ja’erra’s grandmother asked.
“I cannot find my family, I think they’re dead,” said Ja’erra.
Her grandma was the last visitor she ever had. She waited fifty years for her family.
The day she died, her mother, daddy, and Zoe’y showed up alive with scratches all over their bodies. Upon seeing their daughter pass away, they decided to make a new life for themselves. They moved to California, where no lions or other carnivores would get them.
“What happened, what happened?!”
Ja’erra woke up in the mountains and thought she was in California, but it was dark and she was still in the mountains. Her family was alive when she found her way back home, a warm meal waiting for her.
“Shaboom” by Ariyana C. Emiliano
Long, long ago, on a dark stormy night, hearing noises saying ‘shaboom!’, Lori was distracted. Lori a tall, ten-year-old girl with long braids, heard the ‘shaboom’ noise again and again. There was a big hole filled with mud in front of her. She tried to go around, but the noise came again and she fell into the mud. The ‘shaboom’ noise became louder and faster – ‘shaboom, shaboom, shaboom, shaboom, shaboom.’ Lori screamed.
“What is happening? What is that sound?”
The streets were clear and very dark. Lori didn’t see anything, but heard the noise. The mud around her turned gooey and she pulled herself out of it. Out of the mud came a big, green poisonous snake. The snake quickly wrapped around her before Lori could get away.
Lori had a phone, but no friends because she was always bullied. Even if she could reach for her phone, she had no one to call.
“Help!” she screamed, but no one came.
‘Shaboom, shaboom,’ she heard again. Lori may not have had friends, but Lori was really smart. She was able to reach for her phone and started playing music that she knew would hypnotize the snake. The snake slowly started to let her go.
Lori ran down the street home. She got in her house and the ‘shaboom’ noise was even louder. It sounded like it was coming from inside her house. She found in her living room a giant snake that was also big and green, but five times the size of the snake from the mud. The snake tried to attack her. She pulled out her phone and played the same song to hypnotize the snake. But this time, the snake was too smart to fall for it. It lunged for her and pulled her into the ‘shaboom’ noise. She woke up and realized it was all a dream.
A big thank you to all of the volunteers who came out to help our students! We appreciate you!