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Scroggs Elementary brings back "Writer's Cafe" for student authors

A local elementary school is giving its students a less formal way to show off their writing talents in front of their classmates, teachers and family.

Mary Scroggs Elementary School is bringing back its “Writer’s Cafe” tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the school to give its students an audience with which to share their work.

Kindergarten teacher Pat Flynn said 36 students will read their original poems at the event, but the school wants to put on two similar readings later in the school year.

“The kids have the incentive to present their work to a larger audience,” she said.

Julie Dermody, a teacher at McDougle Elementary School who used to work at Scroggs, originally thought up the idea for the Writer’s Cafe about 10 years ago.

“I was looking for a way for my students to have an authentic audience for their writing,” she said.

Although the school stopped holding the event due to difficulty finding local writers to participate, Dermody said she is pleased the opportunity has been brought back.

“It’s nice to know they care enough about what was started to continue it,” she said.

Local author and storyteller Donna Washington will attend the event to teach students the significant role of writing plays in everyday life.

In addition to speaking at the event, Washington will donate 40 percent of profits from her sales at the school’s book fair to its media center.

“Storytelling itself is the oldest art form,” Washington said. “It helps us see we are not so different from other cultures.”

Washington, who travels across the country telling stories, plans to tell traditional narratives and talk about the process that went into writing her new book, “Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa.”

The book follows the character Li’l Rabbit on his quest to find the perfect present for his Granna Rabbit in celebration of the Kwanzaa feast Karamu.

Washington said she believes events like these will help boost literacy in elementary schools.

“It gives kids a chance to see authors are real people and gives them a chance to ask questions.”

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