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Juniors publish book inspired by author’s work

Stories of transformation

Wyoming — Trenity Grossman starts her poem:

My Mom:
My inspiration,
The one I look up to the
Most is my mother

Junior Mackenzie Burgess signs a book for a friend

Carlos Calderon starts his narrative with:

The most perfect moment of my life was when I crossed the border when I was about 6 years old. My parents and I came here to the U.S. for a better future and education for me.

The 193 Wyoming High School juniors including Trenity and Carlos whose entries make up the book “Transformation: Finding our Way in a Challenging World,” share their stories, thoughts, dreams and challenges through prose and poems. 

They recently received copies of the book, a project led by their English 11 teachers and inspired by the work of Laurie Halse Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of  “Shout,” “Speak” and several other novels.

‘I let my feelings take over my writing. I would never have thought that I would be able to (see it in print). It’s kind of crazy seeing it in the book.’

— Junior Mackenzie Burgess

Mackenzie Burgess wrote about her high school experience, touching on transferring schools and becoming rooted in Wyoming. 

“I let my feelings take over my writing,” she said. “I would never have thought that I would be able to (see it in print). It’s kind of crazy seeing it in the book.”

Junior Zariya Swift signs a book for a friend
Junior Zariya Swift signs a book for a friend

Zariya Swift wrote about how her dreams have shifted from when she was a child. 

“Me being in high school now, everything has changed a lot and I want bigger things for myself. I want to accomplish more things than I wanted (to) when I was younger. Expressing my story was very meaningful because it can be meaningful to somebody else.”

The self-published book is the eighth published by Wyoming High School students, who completed the project, printed for the students. Kent District Library as part of its annual author visit. Past visiting authors include Jason Reynolds, Sonia Nazario and Angeline Boulley.The KDL also received a copy of the book for its collection.

Junior Emma Parm reads from the book her junior class published

Halse Anderson was scheduled to visit the school and the library, but had to cancel after she learned she won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in children’s literature. She accepted the award in Sweden during the dates of her planned KDL visit. 

“It brings students full circle,” said English teacher Joslyn O’Dell. “They get to read a book and they get to produce something inspired by it. They get it published, and traditionally we bring in the author as a culminating piece, and the author gets their published product.”

Junior Emma Parm wrote about her experience in school over the course of the pandemic. “It’s fun hearing everybody’s stories,” she said, while perusing her copy. “We went through all the work in the classroom, and now we get to see it in an actual book.”

Read more from Wyoming:
Students’ letters traverse the U.S. 
School celebrates orchard with new trees

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She 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, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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