Fifth-grade students who have been studying the art of fictional writing and character development in their English language arts classes recently worked with Jenna Gavigan, a writer and accomplished Broadway and television actress, to craft their own stories.
During the first session, Gavigan, who graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, shared insight about her professional career, the process of writing and getting one’s work published. She also helped the students develop a list of character traits and plots, as well as locations throughout Rye Neck that could make for a good setting for their fictional stories.
“Jenna encouraged the students to create a story that leads our characters through Rye Neck in an effort to solve a problem at hand,” said William McKeon, the library media specialist at the school. “This year, we used a ‘choose kindness’ theme, and the story outline has been bringing students together for the purpose of making a new student’s transition to Bellows easier.”
As a conclusion to the lessons, Gavigan will provide each fifth-grade class with the completed story they created together. Then in May, the students will welcome local artist Laura Bott from The Bott Shoppe to their school to create digital illustrations for their books.
“Laura will show the students immediately what their character might look like with red hair or wearing gym shorts and sneakers,” McKeon said. “The students are always wonderfully engaged during this session. Laura will then take their ideas and images back to her shop to create the booklet in digital form.”
Once printed, parent volunteers will bind the books and provide each fifth-grader with a copy. Special thanks the PTSA for generously supporting the students’ work with the author and artist.