Ninth-grade Students Connect with Second-graders through Books

“Waxy the Candle was very sad. He was teased and bullied until he went mad,” read ninth-grade student Kim Tran to Brookwood Elementary students. Tran’s story goes on to tell how Waxy lights up a room for all to see when the power goes out, a lesson that everyone has special gifts to contribute."Waxy the Candle" is one of several books students created that will be displayed in the Brookwood Elementary library “You may not feel important at first, but you may be the most important thing to save everybody,” she said.

Teen Leadership freshmen at East Kentwood High School created children’s books to read to Brookwood students to show second graders how they can relate books to their lives and learn from older students. “We want to teach them, and for them to use us as an example of what they’re going to do when they grow up,” Tran said.

Janet Vu reads a story to second graders as they watch the illustrations on the projector

Topics focused on bullying, confidence, and not judging by appearances, issues children can benefit from thinking about at a young age, ninth-graders said. Books will be displayed at the school’s library.

Freshman Campus teacher Joe Pellerito said the Teen Leadership class focuses on public speaking, interacting with students and teachers, developing social skills and practicing job-interview skills. Several students from the 12-week class, which most freshman take, were selected to read to Brookwood students because of the quality of their stories and illustrations.Students in the Kentwood Freshman Campus Teen Leadership class create children books about self-concept

Second-grade teacher Kerianne Sherwood said her students are learning about writing and publishing. Seeing the ninth-grade students work helps them consider how they can use their writing skills. “They definitely look up to them,” she said.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2012. Read Erin's full bio

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